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Every Man in his Humour by Ben Johson


THE greatest of English dramatists except Shakespeare, the first literary dictator and poet-laureate, a writer of verse, prose, satire, and criticism who most potently of all the men of his time affected the subsequent course of English letters: such was Ben Jonson, and as such his strong personality assumes an interest to us almost unparalleled, at least in his age.

Ben Jonson came of the stock that was centuries after to give to the world Thomas Carlyle; for Jonson's grandfather was of Annandale, over the Solway, whence he migrated to England. Jonson's father lost his estate under Queen Mary, "having been cast into prison and forfeited." He entered the church, but died a month before his illustrious son was born, leaving his widow and child in poverty. Jonson's birthplace was Westminster, and the time of his birth early in 1573. He was thus nearly ten years Shakespeare's junior, and less well off, if a trifle better born. But Jonson did not profit even by this slight advantage. His mother married beneath her, a wright or bricklayer, and Jonson was for a time apprenticed to the trade. As a youth he attracted the attention of the famous antiquary, William Camden, then usher at Westminster School, and there the poet laid the solid foundations of his classical learning. Jonson always held Camden in veneration, acknowledging that to him he owed, "All that I am in arts, all that I know:" and dedicating his first dramatic success, "Every Man in His Humour," to him. It is doubtful whether Jonson ever went to either university, though Fuller says that he was "statutably admitted into St. John's College, Cambridge." He tells us that he took no degree, but was later "Master of Arts in both the universities, by their favour, not his study." When a mere youth Jonson enlisted as a soldier trailing his pike in Flanders in the protracted wars of William the Silent against the Spanish. Jonson was a large and raw-boned lad; he became by his own account in time exceedingly bulky. In chat with his friend William Drummond of Hawthornden, Jonson told how "in his service in the Low Countries he had, in the face of both the camps, killed an enemy, and taken 'opima spolia' from him;" and how "since his coming to England, being appealed to the fields, he had killed his adversary which had hurt him in the arm and whose sword was ten inches longer than his." Jonson's reach may have made up for the lack of his sword; certainly his prowess lost nothing in the telling. Obviously Jonson was brave, combative, and not averse to talking of himself and his doings.

In 1592, Jonson returned from abroad penniless. Soon after he married, almost as early and quite as imprudently as Shakespeare. He told Drummond curtly that "his wife was a shrew, yet honest"; for some years he lived apart from her in the household of Lord Albany. Yet two touching epitaphs among Jonson's 'Epigrams', "On my first daughter," and "On my first son," attest the warmth of the poet's family affections. The daughter died in infancy, the son of the plague; another son grew up to manhood little credit to his father whom he survived. We know nothing beyond this of Jonson's domestic life.

How soon Jonson drifted into what we now call grandly "the theatrical profession" we do not know. In 1593 Marlowe made his tragic exit from life, and Greene, Shakespeare's other rival on the popular stage, had preceded Marlowe in an equally miserable death the year before. Shakespeare already had the running to himself. Jonson appears first in the employment of Philip Henslowe, the exploiter of several troupes of players, manager, and father-in-law of the famous actor, Edward Alleyn. From entries in 'Henslowe's Diary', a species of theatrical account book which has been handed down to us, we know that Jonson was connected with the Admiral's men; for he borrowed £4 of Henslowe, July 28, 1597, paying back 3s. 9d. on the same day on account of his "share" (in what is not altogether clear); while later, on December 3, of the same year, Henslowe advanced 20s. to him "upon a book which he showed the plot unto the company which he promised to deliver unto the company at Christmas next." In the next August Jonson was in collaboration with Chettle and Porter in a play called "Hot Anger Soon Cold." All this points to an association with Henslowe of some duration, as no mere tyro would be thus paid in advance upon mere promise. From allusions in Dekker's play, "Satiromastix," it appears that Jonson, like Shakespeare, began life as an actor, and that he "ambled in a leather pitch by a play-wagon" taking at one time the part of Hieronimo in Kyd's famous play, "The Spanish Tragedy." By the beginning of 1598, Jonson, though still in needy circumstances, had begun to receive recognition. Francis Meres — well known for his "Comparative Discourse of our English Poets with the Greek, Latin, and Italian Poets," printed in 1598, and for his mention therein of a dozen plays of Shakespeare by title — accords to Ben Jonson a place as one of "our best in tragedy," a matter of some surprise, as no known tragedy of Jonson from so early a date has come down to us. That Jonson was at work on tragedy, however, is proved by the entries in Henslowe of at least three tragedies, now lost, in which he had a hand. These are "Page of Plymouth," "King Robert II. of Scotland," and "Richard Crookback." But all of these came later, on his return to Henslowe, and range from August 1599 to June 1602.

Returning to the autumn of 1598, an event now happened to sever for a time Jonson's relations with Henslowe. In a letter to Alleyn, dated September 26 of that year, Henslowe writes: "I have lost one of my company that hurteth me greatly; that is Gabriel [Spencer], for he is slain in Hogsden fields by the hands of Benjamin Jonson, bricklayer." The last word is perhaps Henslowe's thrust at Jonson in his displeasure rather than a designation of his actual continuance at his trade up to this time. It is fair to Jonson to remark however, that his adversary appears to have been a notorious fire-eater who had shortly before killed one Feeke in a similar squabble. Duelling was a frequent occurrence of the time among gentlemen and the nobility; it was an imprudent breach of the peace on the part of a player. This duel is the one which Jonson described years after to Drummond, and for it Jonson was duly arraigned at Old Bailey, tried, and convicted. He was sent to prison and such goods and chattels as he had "were forfeited." It is a thought to give one pause that, but for the ancient law permitting convicted felons to plead, as it was called, the benefit of clergy, Jonson might have been hanged for this deed. The circumstance that the poet could read and write saved him; and he received only a brand of the letter "T," for Tyburn, on his left thumb. While in jail Jonson became a Roman Catholic; but he returned to the faith of the Church of England a dozen years later.

On his release, in disgrace with Henslowe and his former associates, Jonson offered his services as a playwright to Henslowe's rivals, the Lord Chamberlain's company, in which Shakespeare was a prominent shareholder. A tradition of long standing, though not susceptible of proof in a court of law, narrates that Jonson had submitted the manuscript of "Every Man in His Humour" to the Chamberlain's men and had received from the company a refusal; that Shakespeare called him back, read the play himself, and at once accepted it. Whether this story is true or not, certain it is that "Every Man in His Humour" was accepted by Shakespeare's company and acted for the first time in 1598, with Shakespeare taking a part. The evidence of this is contained in the list of actors prefixed to the comedy in the folio of Jonson's works, 1616. But it is a mistake to infer, because Shakespeare's name stands first in the list of actors and the elder Kno'well first in the 'dramatis personae', that Shakespeare took that particular part. The order of a list of Elizabethan players was generally that of their importance or priority as shareholders in the company and seldom if ever corresponded to the list of characters.

"Every Man in His Humour" was an immediate success, and with it Jonson's reputation as one of the leading dramatists of his time was established once and for all. This could have been by no means Jonson's earliest comedy, and we have just learned that he was already reputed one of "our best in tragedy." Indeed, one of Jonson's extant comedies, "The Case is Altered," but one never claimed by him or published as his, must certainly have preceded "Every Man in His Humour" on the stage. The former play may be described as a comedy modelled on the Latin plays of Plautus. (It combines, in fact, situations derived from the "Captivi" and the "Aulularia" of that dramatist). But the pretty story of the beggar-maiden, Rachel, and her suitors, Jonson found, not among the classics, but in the ideals of romantic love which Shakespeare had already popularised on the stage. Jonson never again produced so fresh and lovable a feminine personage as Rachel, although in other respects "The Case is Altered" is not a conspicuous play, and, save for the satirising of Antony Munday in the person of Antonio Balladino and Gabriel Harvey as well, is perhaps the least characteristic of the comedies of Jonson.

"Every Man in His Humour," probably first acted late in the summer of 1598 and at the Curtain, is commonly regarded as an epoch-making play; and this view is not unjustified. As to plot, it tells little more than how an intercepted letter enabled a father to follow his supposedly studious son to London, and there observe his life with the gallants of the time. The real quality of this comedy is in its personages and in the theory upon which they are conceived. Ben Jonson had theories about poetry and the drama, and he was neither chary in talking of them nor in experimenting with them in his plays. This makes Jonson, like Dryden in his time, and Wordsworth much later, an author to reckon with; particularly when we remember that many of Jonson's notions came for a time definitely to prevail and to modify the whole trend of English poetry. First of all Jonson was a classicist, that is, he believed in restraint and precedent in art in opposition to the prevalent ungoverned and irresponsible Renaissance spirit. Jonson believed that there was a professional way of doing things which might be reached by a study of the best examples, and he found these examples for the most part among the ancients. To confine our attention to the drama, Jonson objected to the amateurishness and haphazard nature of many contemporary plays, and set himself to do something different; and the first and most striking thing that he evolved was his conception and practice of the comedy of humours.

As Jonson has been much misrepresented in this matter, let us quote his own words as to "humour." A humour, according to Jonson, was a bias of disposition, a warp, so to speak, in character by which

"Some one peculiar quality
Doth so possess a man, that it doth draw
All his affects, his spirits, and his powers,
In their confluctions, all to run one way."

But continuing, Jonson is careful to add:

"But that a rook by wearing a pied feather,
The cable hat-band, or the three-piled ruff,
A yard of shoe-tie, or the Switzers knot
On his French garters, should affect a humour!
O, it is more than most ridiculous."

Jonson's comedy of humours, in a word, conceived of stage personages on the basis of a ruling trait or passion (a notable simplification of actual life be it observed in passing); and, placing these typified traits in juxtaposition in their conflict and contrast, struck the spark of comedy. Downright, as his name indicates, is "a plain squire"; Bobadill's humour is that of the braggart who is incidentally, and with delightfully comic effect, a coward; Brainworm's humour is the finding out of things to the end of fooling everybody: of course he is fooled in the end himself. But it was not Jonson's theories alone that made the success of "Every Man in His Humour." The play is admirably written and each character is vividly conceived, and with a firm touch based on observation of the men of the London of the day. Jonson was neither in this, his first great comedy (nor in any other play that he wrote), a supine classicist, urging that English drama return to a slavish adherence to classical conditions. He says as to the laws of the old comedy (meaning by "laws," such matters as the unities of time and place and the use of chorus): "I see not then, but we should enjoy the same licence, or free power to illustrate and heighten our invention as they [the ancients] did; and not be tied to those strict and regular forms which the niceness of a few, who are nothing but form, would thrust upon us." "Every Man in His Humour" is written in prose, a novel practice which Jonson had of his predecessor in comedy, John Lyly. Even the word "humour" seems to have been employed in the Jonsonian sense by Chapman before Jonson's use of it. Indeed, the comedy of humours itself is only a heightened variety of the comedy of manners which represents life, viewed at a satirical angle, and is the oldest and most persistent species of comedy in the language. None the less, Jonson's comedy merited its immediate success and marked out a definite course in which comedy long continued to run. To mention only Shakespeare's Falstaff and his rout, Bardolph, Pistol, Dame Quickly, and the rest, whether in "Henry IV." or in "The Merry Wives of Windsor," all are conceived in the spirit of humours. So are the captains, Welsh, Scotch, and Irish of "Henry V.," and Malvolio especially later; though Shakespeare never employed the method of humours for an important personage. It was not Jonson's fault that many of his successors did precisely the thing that he had reprobated, that is, degrade "the humour: into an oddity of speech, an eccentricity of manner, of dress, or cut of beard. There was an anonymous play called "Every Woman in Her Humour." Chapman wrote "A Humourous Day's Mirth," Day, "Humour Out of Breath," Fletcher later, "The Humourous Lieutenant," and Jonson, besides "Every Man Out of His Humour," returned to the title in closing the cycle of his comedies in "The Magnetic Lady or Humours Reconciled."

With the performance of "Every Man Out of His Humour" in 1599, by Shakespeare's company once more at the Globe, we turn a new page in Jonson's career. Despite his many real virtues, if there is one feature more than any other that distinguishes Jonson, it is his arrogance; and to this may be added his self-righteousness, especially under criticism or satire. "Every Man Out of His Humour" is the first of three "comical satires" which Jonson contributed to what Dekker called the 'poetomachia' or war of the theatres as recent critics have named it. This play as a fabric of plot is a very slight affair; but as a satirical picture of the manners of the time, proceeding by means of vivid caricature, couched in witty and brilliant dialogue and sustained by that righteous indignation which must lie at the heart of all true satire — as a realisation, in short, of the classical ideal of comedy — there had been nothing like Jonson's comedy since the days of Aristophanes. "Every Man in His Humour," like the two plays that follow it, contains two kinds of attack, the critical or generally satiric, levelled at abuses and corruptions in the abstract; and the personal, in which specific application is made of all this in the lampooning of poets and others, Jonson's contemporaries. The method of personal attack by actual caricature of a person on the stage is almost as old as the drama. Aristophanes so lampooned Euripides in "The Acharnians" and Socrates in "The Clouds," to mention no other examples; and in English drama this kind of thing is alluded to again and again. What Jonson really did, was to raise the dramatic lampoon to an art, and make out of a casual burlesque and bit of mimicry a dramatic satire of literary pretensions and permanency. With the arrogant attitude mentioned above and his uncommon eloquence in scorn, vituperation, and invective, it is no wonder that Jonson soon involved himself in literary and even personal quarrels with his fellow-authors. The circumstances of the origin of this 'poetomachia' are far from clear, and those who have written on the topic, except of late, have not helped to make them clearer. The origin of the "war" has been referred to satirical references, apparently to Jonson, contained in "The Scourge of Villainy," a satire in regular form after the manner of the ancients by John Marston, a fellow playwright, subsequent friend and collaborator of Jonson's. On the other hand, epigrams of Jonson have been discovered (49, 68, and 100) variously charging "playwright" (reasonably identified with Marston) with scurrility, cowardice, and plagiarism; though the dates of the epigrams cannot be ascertained with certainty. Jonson's own statement of the matter to Drummond runs: "He had many quarrels with Marston, beat him, and took his pistol from him, wrote his 'Poetaster' on him; the beginning[s] of them were that Marston represented him on the stage."*

[footnote] *The best account of this whole subject is to be found in the edition of 'Poetaster' and 'Satiromastrix' by J. H. Penniman in 'Belles Lettres Series' shortly to appear. See also his earlier work, 'The War of the Theatres', 1892, and the excellent contributions to the subject by H. C. Hart in 'Notes and Queries', and in his edition of Jonson, 1906.

Here at least we are on certain ground; and the principals of the quarrel are known. "Histriomastix," a play revised by Marston in 1598, has been regarded as the one in which Jonson was thus "represented on the stage"; although the personage in question, Chrisogonus, a poet, satirist, and translator, poor but proud, and contemptuous of the common herd, seems rather a complimentary portrait of Jonson than a caricature. As to the personages actually ridiculed in "Every Man Out of His Humour," Carlo Buffone was formerly thought certainly to be Marston, as he was described as "a public scurrilous, and profane jester," and elsewhere as the grand scourge or second untruss [that is, satirist], of the time" (Joseph Hall being by his own boast the first, and Marston's work being entitled "The Scourge of Villainy"). Apparently we must now prefer for Carlo a notorious character named Charles Chester, of whom gossipy and inaccurate Aubrey relates that he was "a bold impertinent fellow...a perpetual talker and made a noise like a drum in a room. So one time at a tavern Sir Walter Raleigh beats him and seals up his mouth (that is his upper and nether beard) with hard wax. From him Ben Jonson takes his Carlo Buffone ['i.e.', jester] in 'Every Man in His Humour' ['sic']." Is it conceivable that after all Jonson was ridiculing Marston, and that the point of the satire consisted in an intentional confusion of "the grand scourge or second untruss" with "the scurrilous and profane" Chester?

We have digressed into detail in this particular case to exemplify the difficulties of criticism in its attempts to identify the allusions in these forgotten quarrels. We are on sounder ground of fact in recording other manifestations of Jonson's enmity. In "The Case is Altered" there is clear ridicule in the character Antonio Balladino of Anthony Munday, pageant-poet of the city, translator of romances and playwright as well. In "Every Man in His Humour" there is certainly a caricature of Samuel Daniel, accepted poet of the court, sonneteer, and companion of men of fashion. These men held recognised positions to which Jonson felt his talents better entitled him; they were hence to him his natural enemies. It seems almost certain that he pursued both in the personages of his satire through "Every Man Out of His Humour," and "Cynthia's Revels," Daniel under the characters Fastidious Brisk and Hedon, Munday as Puntarvolo and Amorphus; but in these last we venture on quagmire once more. Jonson's literary rivalry of Daniel is traceable again and again, in the entertainments that welcomed King James on his way to London, in the masques at court, and in the pastoral drama. As to Jonson's personal ambitions with respect to these two men, it is notable that he became, not pageant-poet, but chronologer to the City of London; and that, on the accession of the new king, he came soon to triumph over Daniel as the accepted entertainer of royalty.

"Cynthia's Revels," the second "comical satire," was acted in 1600, and, as a play, is even more lengthy, elaborate, and impossible than "Every Man Out of His Humour." Here personal satire seems to have absorbed everything, and while much of the caricature is admirable, especially in the detail of witty and trenchantly satirical dialogue, the central idea of a fountain of self-love is not very well carried out, and the persons revert at times to abstractions, the action to allegory. It adds to our wonder that this difficult drama should have been acted by the Children of Queen Elizabeth's Chapel, among them Nathaniel Field with whom Jonson read Horace and Martial, and whom he taught later how to make plays. Another of these precocious little actors was Salathiel Pavy, who died before he was thirteen, already famed for taking the parts of old men. Him Jonson immortalised in one of the sweetest of his epitaphs. An interesting sidelight is this on the character of this redoubtable and rugged satirist, that he should thus have befriended and tenderly remembered these little theatrical waifs, some of whom (as we know) had been literally kidnapped to be pressed into the service of the theatre and whipped to the conning of their difficult parts. To the caricature of Daniel and Munday in "Cynthia's Revels" must be added Anaides (impudence), here assuredly Marston, and Asotus (the prodigal), interpreted as Lodge or, more perilously, Raleigh. Crites, like Asper-Macilente in "Every Man Out of His Humour," is Jonson's self-complaisant portrait of himself, the just, wholly admirable, and judicious scholar, holding his head high above the pack of the yelping curs of envy and detraction, but careless of their puny attacks on his perfections with only too mindful a neglect.

The third and last of the "comical satires" is "Poetaster," acted, once more, by the Children of the Chapel in 1601, and Jonson's only avowed contribution to the fray. According to the author's own account, this play was written in fifteen weeks on a report that his enemies had entrusted to Dekker the preparation of "Satiromastix, the Untrussing of the Humorous Poet," a dramatic attack upon himself. In this attempt to forestall his enemies Jonson succeeded, and "Poetaster" was an immediate and deserved success. While hardly more closely knit in structure than its earlier companion pieces, "Poetaster" is planned to lead up to the ludicrous final scene in which, after a device borrowed from the "Lexiphanes" of Lucian, the offending poetaster, Marston-Crispinus, is made to throw up the difficult words with which he had overburdened his stomach as well as overlarded his vocabulary. In the end Crispinus with his fellow, Dekker-Demetrius, is bound over to keep the peace and never thenceforward "malign, traduce, or detract the person or writings of Quintus Horatius Flaccus [Jonson] or any other eminent man transcending you in merit." One of the most diverting personages in Jonson's comedy is Captain Tucca. "His peculiarity" has been well described by Ward as "a buoyant blackguardism which recovers itself instantaneously from the most complete exposure, and a picturesqueness of speech like that of a walking dictionary of slang."

It was this character, Captain Tucca, that Dekker hit upon in his reply, "Satiromastix," and he amplified him, turning his abusive vocabulary back upon Jonson and adding "An immodesty to his dialogue that did not enter into Jonson's conception." It has been held, altogether plausibly, that when Dekker was engaged professionally, so to speak, to write a dramatic reply to Jonson, he was at work on a species of chronicle history, dealing with the story of Walter Terill in the reign of William Rufus. This he hurriedly adapted to include the satirical characters suggested by "Poetaster," and fashioned to convey the satire of his reply. The absurdity of placing Horace in the court of a Norman king is the result. But Dekker's play is not without its palpable hits at the arrogance, the literary pride, and self-righteousness of Jonson-Horace, whose "ningle" or pal, the absurd Asinius Bubo, has recently been shown to figure forth, in all likelihood, Jonson's friend, the poet Drayton. Slight and hastily adapted as is "Satiromastix," especially in a comparison with the better wrought and more significant satire of "Poetaster," the town awarded the palm to Dekker, not to Jonson; and Jonson gave over in consequence his practice of "comical satire." Though Jonson was cited to appear before the Lord Chief Justice to answer certain charges to the effect that he had attacked lawyers and soldiers in "Poetaster," nothing came of this complaint. It may be suspected that much of this furious clatter and give-and-take was pure playing to the gallery. The town was agog with the strife, and on no less an authority than Shakespeare ("Hamlet," ii. 2), we learn that the children's company (acting the plays of Jonson) did "so berattle the common stages...that many, wearing rapiers, are afraid of goose-quills, and dare scarce come thither."

Several other plays have been thought to bear a greater or less part in the war of the theatres. Among them the most important is a college play, entitled "The Return from Parnassus," dating 1601-02. In it a much-quoted passage makes Burbage, as a character, declare: "Why here's our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down; aye and Ben Jonson, too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow; he brought up Horace, giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him bewray his credit." Was Shakespeare then concerned in this war of the stages? And what could have been the nature of this "purge"? Among several suggestions, "Troilus and Cressida" has been thought by some to be the play in which Shakespeare thus "put down" his friend, Jonson. A wiser interpretation finds the "purge" in "Satiromastix," which, though not written by Shakespeare, was staged by his company, and therefore with his approval and under his direction as one of the leaders of that company.

The last years of the reign of Elizabeth thus saw Jonson recognised as a dramatist second only to Shakespeare, and not second even to him as a dramatic satirist. But Jonson now turned his talents to new fields. Plays on subjects derived from classical story and myth had held the stage from the beginning of the drama, so that Shakespeare was making no new departure when he wrote his "Julius Caesar" about 1600. Therefore when Jonson staged "Sejanus," three years later and with Shakespeare'scompany once more, he was only following in the elder dramatist's footsteps. But Jonson's idea of a play on classical history, on the one hand, and Shakespeare's and the elder popular dramatists, on the other, were very different. Heywood some years before had put five straggling plays on the stage in quick succession, all derived from stories in Ovid and dramatised with little taste or discrimination. Shakespeare had a finer conception of form, but even he was contented to take all his ancient history from North's translation of Plutarch and dramatise his subject without further inquiry. Jonson was a scholar and a classical antiquarian. He reprobated this slipshod amateurishness, and wrote his "Sejanus" like a scholar, reading Tacitus, Suetonius, and other authorities, to be certain of his facts, his setting, and his atmosphere, and somewhat pedantically noting his authorities in the margin when he came to print. "Sejanus" is a tragedy of genuine dramatic power in which is told with discriminating taste the story of the haughty favourite of Tiberius with his tragical overthrow. Our drama presents no truer nor more painstaking representation of ancient Roman life than may be found in Jonson's "Sejanus" and "Catiline his Conspiracy," which followed in 1611. A passage in the address of the former play to the reader, in which Jonson refers to a collaboration in an earlier version, has led to the surmise that Shakespeare may have been that "worthier pen." There is no evidence to determine the matter.

In 1605, we find Jonson in active collaboration with Chapman and Marston in the admirable comedy of London life entitled "Eastward Hoe." In the previous year, Marston had dedicated his "Malcontent," in terms of fervid admiration, to Jonson; so that the wounds of the war of the theatres must have been long since healed. Between Jonson and Chapman there was the kinship of similar scholarly ideals. The two continued friends throughout life. "Eastward Hoe" achieved the extraordinary popularity represented in a demand for three issues in one year. But this was not due entirely to the merits of the play. In its earliest version a passage which an irritable courtier conceived to be derogatory to his nation, the Scots, sent both Chapman and Jonson to jail; but the matter was soon patched up, for by this time Jonson had influence at court.

With the accession of King James, Jonson began his long and successful career as a writer of masques. He wrote more masques than all his competitors together, and they are of an extraordinary variety and poetic excellence. Jonson did not invent the masque; for such premeditated devices to set and frame, so to speak, a court ball had been known and practised in varying degrees of elaboration long before his time. But Jonson gave dramatic value to the masque, especially in his invention of the antimasque, a comedy or farcical element of relief, entrusted to professional players or dancers. He enhanced, as well, the beauty and dignity of those portions of the masque in which noble lords and ladies took their parts to create, by their gorgeous costumes and artistic grouping and evolutions, a sumptuous show. On the mechanical and scenic side Jonson had an inventive and ingenious partner in Inigo Jones, the royal architect, who more than any one man raised the standard of stage representation in the England of his day. Jonson continued active in the service of the court in the writing of masques and other entertainments far into the reign of King Charles; but, towards the end, a quarrel with Jones embittered his life, and the two testy old men appear to have become not only a constant irritation to each other, but intolerable bores at court. In "Hymenaei," "The Masque of Queens," "Love Freed from Ignorance," "Lovers made Men," "Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue," and many more will be found Jonson's aptitude, his taste, his poetry and inventiveness in these by-forms of the drama; while in "The Masque of Christmas," and "The Gipsies Metamorphosed" especially, is discoverable that power ofbroad comedy which, at court as well as in the city, was not the least element of Jonson's contemporary popularity.

But Jonson had by no means given up the popular stage when he turned to the amusement of King James. In 1605 "Volpone" was produced, "The Silent Woman" in 1609, "The Alchemist" in the following year. These comedies, with "Bartholomew Fair," 1614, represent Jonson at his height, and for constructive cleverness, character successfully conceived in the manner of caricature, wit and brilliancy of dialogue, they stand alone in English drama. "Volpone, or the Fox," is, in a sense, a transition play from the dramatic satires of the war of the theatres to the purer comedy represented in the plays named above. Its subject is a struggle of wit applied to chicanery; for among its 'dramatis personae', from the villainous Fox himself, his rascally servant Mosca, Voltore (the vulture), Corbaccio and Corvino (the big and the little raven), to Sir Politic Would-be and the rest, there is scarcely a virtuous character in the play. Question has been raised as to whether a story so forbidding can be considered a comedy, for, although the plot ends in the discomfiture and imprisonment of the most vicious, it involves no moral catastrophe. But Jonson was on sound historical ground, for "Volpone" is conceived far more logically on the lines of the ancients' theory of comedy than was ever the romantic drama of Shakespeare, however repulsive we may find a philosophy of life that facilely divides the world into the rogues and their dupes, and, identifying brains with roguery and innocence with folly, admires the former while inconsistently punishing them.

"The Silent Woman" is a gigantic farce of the most ingenious construction. The whole comedy hinges on a huge joke, played by a heartless nephew on his misanthropic uncle, who is induced to take to himself a wife, young, fair, and warranted silent, but who, in the end, turns out neither silent nor a woman at all. In "The Alchemist," again, we have the utmost cleverness in construction, the whole fabric building climax on climax, witty, ingenious, and so plausibly presented that we forget its departures from the possibilities of life. In "The Alchemist" Jonson represented, none the less to the life, certain sharpers of the metropolis, revelling in their shrewdness and rascality and in the variety of the stupidity and wickedness of their victims. We may object to the fact that the only person in the play possessed of a scruple of honesty is discomfited, and that the greatest scoundrel of all is approved in the end and rewarded. The comedy is so admirably written and contrived, the personages stand out with such lifelike distinctness in their several kinds, and the whole is animated with such verve and resourcefulness that "The Alchemist" is a new marvel every time it is read. Lastly of this group comes the tremendous comedy, "Bartholomew Fair," less clear cut, less definite, and less structurally worthy of praise than its three predecessors, but full of the keenest and cleverest of satire and inventive to a degree beyond any English comedy save some other of Jonson's own. It is in "Bartholomew Fair" that we are presented to the immortal caricature of the Puritan, Zeal-in-the-Land Busy, and the Littlewits that group about him, and it is in this extraordinary comedy that the humour of Jonson, always open to this danger, loosens into the Rabelaisian mode that so delighted King James in "The Gipsies Metamorphosed." Another comedy of less merit is "The Devil is an Ass," acted in 1616. It was the failure of this play that caused Jonson to give over writing for the public stage for a period of nearly ten years.

"Volpone" was laid as to scene in Venice. Whether because of the success of "Eastward Hoe" or for other reasons, the other three comedies declare in the words of the prologue to "The Alchemist": "Our scene is London, 'cause we would make known No country's mirth is better than our own." Indeed Jonson went further when he came to revise his plays for collected publication in his folio of 1616, he transferred the scene of "Every Man in His Humou r" from Florence to London also, converting Signior Lorenzo di Pazzi to Old Kno'well, Prospero to Master Welborn, and Hesperida to Dame Kitely "dwelling i' the Old Jewry."

In his comedies of London life, despite his trend towards caricature, Jonson has shown himself a genuine realist, drawing from the life about him with an experience and insight rare in any generation. A happy comparison has been suggested between Ben Jonson and Charles Dickens. Both were men of the people, lowly born and hardly bred. Each knew the London of his time as few men knew it; and each represented it intimately and in elaborate detail. Both men were at heart moralists, seeking the truth by the exaggerated methods of humour and caricature; perverse, even wrong-headed at times, but possessed of a true pathos and largeness of heart, and when all has been said — though the Elizabethan ran to satire, the Victorian to sentimentality — leaving the world better for the art that they practised in it.

In 1616, the year of the death of Shakespeare, Jonson collected his plays, his poetry, and his masques for publication in a collective edition. This was an unusual thing at the time and had been attempted by no dramatist before Jonson. This volume published, in a carefully revised text, all the plays thus far mentioned, excepting "The Case is Altered," which Jonson did not acknowledge, "Bartholomew Fair," and "The Devil is an Ass," which was written too late. It included likewise a book of some hundred and thirty odd 'Epigrams', in which form of brief and pungent writing Jonson was an acknowledged master; "The Forest," a smaller collection of lyric and occasional verse and some ten 'Masques' and 'Entertainments'. In this same year Jonson was made poet laureate with a pension of one hundred marks a year. This, with his fees and returns from several noblemen, and the small earnings of his plays must have formed the bulk of his income. The poet appears to have done certain literary hack-work for others, as, for example, parts of the Punic Wars contributed to Raleigh's 'History of the World'. We know from a story, little to the credit of either, that Jonson accompanied Raleigh's son abroad in the capacity of a tutor. In 1618 Jonson was granted the reversion of the office of Master of the Revels, a post for which he was peculiarly fitted; but he did not live to enjoy its perquisites. Jonson was honoured with degrees by both universities, though when and under what circumstances is not known. It has been said that he narrowly escaped the honour of knighthood, which the satirists of the day averred King James was wont to lavish with an indiscriminate hand. Worse men were made knights in his day than worthy Ben Jonson.

From 1616 to the close of the reign of King James, Jonson produced nothing for the stage. But he "prosecuted" what he calls "his wonted studies" with such assiduity that he became in reality, as by report, one of the most learned men of his time. Jonson's theory of authorship involved a wide acquaintance with books and "an ability," as he put it, "to convert the substance or riches of another poet to his own use." Accordingly Jonson read not only the Greek and Latin classics down to the lesser writers, but he acquainted himself especially with the Latin writings of his learned contemporaries, their prose as well as their poetry, their antiquities and curious lore as well as their more solid learning. Though a poor man, Jonson was an indefatigable collector of books. He told Drummond that "the Earl of Pembroke sent him £20 every first day of the new year to buy new books." Unhappily, in 1623, his library was destroyed by fire, an accident serio-comically described in his witty poem, "An Execration upon Vulcan." Yet even now a book turns up from time to time in which is inscribed, in fair large Italian lettering, the name, Ben Jonson. With respect to Jonson's use of his material, Dryden said memorably of him: "[He] was not only a professed imitator of Horace, but a learned plagiary of all the others; you track him everywhere in their snow....But he has done his robberies so openly that one sees he fears not to be taxed by any law. He invades authors like a monarch, and what would be theft in other poets is only victory in him." And yet it is but fair to say that Jonson prided himself, and justly, on his originality. In "Catiline," he not only uses Sallust's account of the conspiracy, but he models some of the speeches of Cicero on the Roman orator's actual words. In "Poetaster," he lifts a whole satire out of Horace and dramatises it effectively for his purposes. The sophist Libanius suggests the situation of "The Silent Woman"; a Latin comedy of Giordano Bruno, "Il Candelaio," the relation of the dupes and the sharpers in "The Alchemist," the "Mostellaria" of Plautus, its admirable opening scene. But Jonson commonly bettered his sources, and putting the stamp of his sovereignty on whatever bullion he borrowed made it thenceforward to all time current and his own.

The lyric and especially the occasional poetry of Jonson has a peculiar merit. His theory demanded design and the perfection of literary finish. He was furthest from the rhapsodist and the careless singer of an idle day; and he believed that Apollo could only be worthily served in singing robes and laurel crowned. And yet many of Jonson's lyrics will live as long as the language. Who does not know "Queen and huntress, chaste and fair." "Drink to me only with thine eyes," or "Still to be neat, still to be dressed"? Beautiful in form, deft and graceful in expression, with not a word too much or one that bears not its part in the total effect, there is yet about the lyrics of Jonson a certain stiffness and formality, a suspicion that they were not quite spontaneous and unbidden, but that they were carved, so to speak, with disproportionate labour by a potent man of letters whose habitual thought is on greater things. It is for these reasons that Jonson is even better in the epigram and in occasional verse where rhetorical finish and pointed wit less interfere with the spontaneity and emotion which we usually associate with lyrical poetry. There are no such epitaphs as Ben Jonson's, witness the charming ones on his own children, on Salathiel Pavy, the child-actor, and many more; and this even though the rigid law of mine and thine must now restore to William Browne of Tavistock the famous lines beginning: "Underneath this sable hearse." Jonson is unsurpassed, too, in the difficult poetry of compliment, seldom falling into fulsome praise and disproportionate similtude, yet showing again and again a generous appreciation of worth in others, a discriminating taste and a generous personal regard. There was no man in England of his rank so well known and universally beloved as Ben Jonson. The list of his friends, of those to whom he had written verses, and those who had written verses to him, includes the name of every man of prominence in the England of King James. And the tone of many of these productions discloses an affectionate familiarity that speaks for the amiable personality and sound worth of the laureate. In 1619, growing unwieldy through inactivity, Jonson hit upon the heroic remedy of a journey afoot to Scotland. On his way thither and back he was hospitably received at the houses of many friends and by those to whom his friends had recommended him. When he arrived in Edinburgh, the burgesses met to grant him the freedom of the city, and Drummond, foremost of Scottish poets, was proud to entertain him for weeks as his guest at Hawthornden. Some of the noblest of Jonson's poems were inspired by friendship. Such is the fine "Ode to the memory of Sir Lucius Cary and Sir Henry Moryson," and that admirable piece of critical insight and filial affection, prefixed to the first Shakespeare folio, "To the memory of my beloved master, William Shakespeare, and what he hath left us." to mention only these. Nor can the earlier "Epode," beginning "Not to know vice at all," be matchedin stately gravity and gnomic wisdom in its own wise and stately age.

But if Jonson had deserted the stage after the publication of his folio and up to the end of the reign of King James, he was far from inactive; for year after year his inexhaustible inventiveness continued to contribute to the masquing and entertainment at court. In "The Golden Age Restored," Pallas turns from the Iron Age with its attendant evils into statues which sink out of sight; in "Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue," Atlas figures represented as an old man, his shoulders covered with snow, and Comus, "the god of cheer or the belly," is one of the characters, a circumstance which an imaginative boy of ten, named John Milton, was not to forget. "Pan's Anniversary," late in the reign of James, proclaimed that Jonson had not yet forgotten how to write exquisite lyrics, and "The Gipsies Metamorphosed" displayed the old drollery and broad humorous stroke still unimpaired and unmatchable. These, too, and the earlier years of Charles were the days of the Apollo Room of the Devil Tavern where Jonson presided, the absolute monarch of English literary Bohemia. We hear of a room blazoned about with Jonson's own judicious 'Leges Convivales' in letters of gold, of a company made up of the choicest spirits of the time, devotedly attached to their veteran dictator, his reminiscences, opinions, affections, and enmities. And we hear, too, of valorous potations; but in the words of Herrick addressed to his master, Jonson, at the Devil Tavern, as at the Dog, the Triple Tun, and at the Mermaid,

"We such clusters had
As made us nobly wild, not mad,
And yet each verse of thine
Outdid the meat, outdid the frolic wine."

But the patronage of the court failed in the days of King Charles, though Jonson was not without royal favours; and the old poet returned to the stage, producing, between 1625 and 1633, "The Staple of News," "The New Inn," "The Magnetic Lady," and "The Tale of a Tub," the last doubtless revised from a much earlier comedy. None of these plays met with any marked success, although the scathing generalisation of Dryden that designated them "Jonson's dotages" is unfair to their genuine merits. Thus the idea of an office for the gathering, proper dressing, and promulgation of news (wild flight of the fancy in its time) was an excellent subject for satire on the existing absurdities among the newsmongers; although as much can hardly be said for "The Magnetic Lady," who, in her bounty, draws to her personages of differing humours to reconcile them in the end according to the alternative title, or "Humours Reconciled." These last plays of the old dramatist revert to caricature and the hard lines of allegory; the moralist is more than ever present, the satire degenerates into personal lampoon, especially of his sometime friend, Inigo Jones, who appears unworthily to have used his influence at court against the broken-down old poet. And now disease claimed Jonson, and he was bedridden for months. He had succeeded Middleton in 1628 as Chronologer to the City of London, but lost the post for not fulfilling its duties. King Charles befriended him, and even commissioned him to write still for the entertainment of the court; and he was not without the sustaining hand of noble patrons and devoted friends among the younger poets who were proud to be "sealed of the tribe of Ben."

Jonson died, August 6, 1637, and a second folio of his works, which he had been some time gathering, was printed in 1640, bearing in its various parts dates ranging from 1630 to 1642. It included all the plays mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs, excepting "The Case is Altered;" the masques, some fifteen, that date between 1617 and 1630; another collection of lyrics and occasional poetry called "Underwoods, including some further entertainments; a translation of "Horace's Art of Poetry" (also published in a vicesimo quarto in 1640), and certain fragments and ingatherings which the poet would hardly have included himself. These last comprise the fragment (less than seventy lines) of a tragedy called "Mortimer his Fall," and three acts of a pastoral drama of much beauty and poetic spirit, "The Sad Shepherd." There is also the exceedingly interesting 'English Grammar' "made by Ben Jonson for the benefit of all strangers out of his observation of the English language now spoken and in use," in Latin and English; and 'Timber, or discoveries' "made upon men and matter as they have flowed out of his daily reading, or had their reflux to his peculiar notion of the times." The 'Discoveries', as it is usually called, is a commonplace book such as many literary men have kept, in which their reading was chronicled, passages that took their fancy translated or transcribed, and their passing opinions noted. Many passage of Jonson's 'Discoveries' are literal translations from the authors he chanced to be reading, with the reference, noted or not, as the accident of the moment prescribed. At times he follows the line of Macchiavelli's argument as to the nature and conduct of princes; at others he clarifies his own conception of poetry and poets by recourse to Aristotle. He finds a choice paragraph on eloquence in Seneca the elder and applies it to his own recollection of Bacon's power as an orator; and another on facile and ready genius, and translates it, adapting it to his recollection of his fellow-playwright, Shakespeare. To call such passages — which Jonson never intended for publication — plagiarism, is to obscure the significance of words. To disparage his memory by citing them is a preposterous use of scholarship. Jonson's prose, both in his dramas, in the descriptive comments of his masques, and in the 'Discoveries', is characterised by clarity and vigorous directness, nor is it wanting in a fine sense of form or in the subtler graces of diction.

When Jonson died there was a project for a handsome monument to his memory. But the Civil War was at hand, and the project failed. A memorial, not insufficient, was carved on the stone covering his grave in one of the aisles of Westminster Abbey: "O rare Ben Jonson."







LOR. SE. Now trust me, here's a goodly day toward.
Musco, call up my son Lorenzo; bid him rise; tell him, I have some business
to employ him in.

MUS. I will, sir, presently.

LOR. SE. But hear you, sirrah; If he be at study disturb him not.

MUS. Very good, sir.

LOR. SE. How happy would I estimate myself,
Could I by any means retire my son,
From one vain course of study he affects!
He is a scholar (if a man may trust
The liberal voice of double-tongued report)
Of dear account, in all our 'Academies'.
Yet this position must not breed in me
A fast opinion that he cannot err.
Myself was once a 'student', and indeed
Fed with the self-same humour he is now,
Dreaming on nought but idle 'Poetry';
But since, Experience hath awaked my spirits,
And reason taught them, how to comprehend
The sovereign use of study. What, cousin Stephano!
What news with you, that you are here so early?

STEP. Nothing: but e'en come to see how you do, uncle.

LOR. SE. That's kindly done; you are welcome, cousin.

STEP. Ay, I know that sir, I would not have come else: how doth my
cousin, uncle?

LOR. SE. Oh, well, well, go in and see; I doubt he's scarce stirring yet.

STEP. Uncle, afore I go in, can you tell me an he have e'er a book of the
sciences of hawking and hunting? I would fain borrow it.

LOR. SE. Why, I hope you will not a hawking now, will you?

STEP. No, wusse; but I'll practise against next year; I have bought me a
hawk, and bells and all; I lack nothing but a book to keep it by.

LOR. SE. Oh, most ridiculous.

STEP. Nay, look you now, you are angry, uncle, why, you know, an a man
have not skill in hawking and hunting now-a-days, I'll not give a rush for
him; he is for no gentleman's company, and (by God's will) I scorn it, ay,
so I do, to be a consort for every 'hum-drum'; hang them 'scroyles',
there's nothing in them in the world, what do you talk on it? a gentleman
must shew himself like a gentleman. Uncle, I pray you be not angry, I know
what I have to do, I trow, I am no novice.

LOR. SE. Go to, you are a prodigal, and self-willed fool.
Nay, never look at me, it's I that speak,
Take't as you will, I'll not flatter you.
What? have you not means enow to waste
That which your friends have left you, but you must
Go cast away your money on a Buzzard,
And know not how to keep it when you have done?
Oh, it's brave, this will make you a gentleman,
Well, cousin, well, I see you are e'en past hope
Of all reclaim; ay, so, now you are told on it, you look another way.

STEP. What would you have me do, trow?

LOR. SE. What would I have you do? marry,
Learn to be wise, and practise how to thrive,
That I would have you do, and not to spend
Your crowns on every one that humours you:
I would not have you to intrude yourself
In every gentleman's society,
Till their affections or your own dessert,
Do worthily invite you to the place.
For he that's so respectless in his courses,
Oft sells his reputation vile and cheap.
Let not your carriage and behaviour taste
Of affectation, lest while you pretend
To make a blaze of gentry to the world
A little puff of scorn extinguish it,
And you be left like an unsavoury snuff,
Whole property is only to offend.
Cousin, lay by such superficial forms,
And entertain a perfect real substance;
Stand not so much on your gentility,
But moderate your expenses (now at first)
As you may keep the same proportion still:
Bear a low sail. Soft, who's this comes here?

SER. Gentlemen, God save you.

STEP. Welcome, good friend; we do not stand much upon our gentility, yet I
can assure you mine uncle is a man of a thousand pound land a year; he hath
but one son in the world; I am his next heir, as simple as I stand here, if
my cousin die. I have a fair living of mine own too beside.

SER. In good time, sir.

STEP. In good time, sir! you do not flout me, do you?

SER. Not I, sir.

STEP. An you should, here be them can perceive it, and that quickly too.
Go to; and they can give it again soundly, an need be.

SER. Why, sir, let this satisfy you. Good faith, I had no such intent.

STEP. By God, an I thought you had, sir, I would talk with you.

SER. So you may, sir, and at your pleasure.

STEP. And so I would, sir, an you were out of mine uncle's ground, I can
tell you.

LOR. SE. Why, how now, cousin, will this ne'er be left?

STEP. Whoreson, base fellow, by God's lid, an 'twere not for shame, I would —

LOR. SE. What would you do? you peremptory ass,
An you'll not be quiet, get you hence.
You see, the gentleman contains himself
In modest limits, giving no reply
To your unseason'd rude comparatives;
Yet you'll demean yourself without respect
Either of duty or humanity.
Go, get you in: 'fore God, I am asham'd
Thou has a kinsman's interest in me.

SER. I pray you, sir, is this 'Pazzi' house?

LOR. SE. Yes, marry is it, sir.

SER. I should enquire for a gentleman here, one Signior Lorenzo di Pazzi;
do you know any such, sir, I pray you?

LOR. SE. Yes, sir; or else I should forget myself.

SER. I cry you mercy, sir, I was requested by a gentleman of Florence
(having some occasion to ride this way) to deliver you this letter.

LOR. SE. To me, sir? What do you mean? I pray you remember your court'sy.
"To his dear and most selected friend, Signior Lorenzo di Pazzi". What
might the gentleman's name be, sir, that sent it? Nay, pray you be covered.

SER. Signior Prospero.

LOR. SE. Signior Prospero? A young gentleman of the family of Strozzi, is
he not?

SER. Ay, sir, the same: Signior Thorello, the rich Florentine merchant
married his sister.

LOR. SE. You say very true. — Musco.

MUS. Sir.

LOR. SE. Make this gentleman drink here.
I pray you go in, sir, an't please you.
Now (without doubt) this letter's to my son.
Well, all is one: I'll be so bold as read it,
Be it but for the style's sake, and the phrase;
Both which (I do presume) are excellent,
And greatly varied from the vulgar form,
If Prospero's invention gave them life.
How now! what stuff is here?
"Sir Lorenzo, I muse we cannot see thee at Florence: 'Sblood, I doubt,
Apollo hath got thee to be his Ingle, that thou comest not abroad, to visit
thine old friends: well, take heed of him; he may do somewhat for his
household servants, or so; But for his Retainers, I am sure, I have known
some of them, that have followed him, three, four, five years together,
scorning the world with their bare heels, and at length been glad for a
shift (though no clean shift) to lie a whole winter, in half a sheet
cursing Charles' wain, and the rest of the stars intolerably. But (quis
contra diuos?) well; Sir, sweet villain, come and see me; but spend one
minute in my company, and 'tis enough: I think I have a world of good
jests for thee: oh, sir, I can shew thee two of the most perfect, rare and
absolute true Gulls, that ever thou saw'st, if thou wilt come. 'Sblood,
invent some famous memorable lie, or other, to flap thy Father in the mouth
withal: thou hast been father of a thousand, in thy days, thou could'st be
no Poet else: any scurvy roguish excuse will serve; say thou com'st but to
fetch wool for thine Ink-horn. And then, too, thy Father will say thy wits
are a wool-gathering. But it's no matter; the worse, the better. Any
thing is good enough for the old man. Sir, how if thy Father should see
this now? what would he think of me? Well, (how ever I write to thee) I
reverence him in my soul, for the general good all Florence delivers of
him. Lorenzo, I conjure thee (by what, let me see) by the depth of our
love, by all the strange sights we have seen in our days, (ay, or nights
either,) to come to me to Florence this day. Go to, you shall come, and
let your Muses go spin for once. If thou wilt not, 's hart, what's your
god's name? Apollo? Ay, Apollo. If this melancholy rogue (Lorenzo here)
do not come, grant, that he do turn Fool presently, and never hereafter be
able to make a good jest, or a blank verse, but live in more penury of wit
and invention, than either the Hall-Readle, or Poet Nuntius."
Well, it is the strangest letter that ever I read.
Is this the man, my son so oft hath praised
To be the happiest, and most precious wit
That ever was familiar with Art?
Now, by our Lady's blessed son, I swear,
I rather think him most unfortunate
In the possession of such holy gifts,
Being the master of so loose a spirit.
Why, what unhallowed ruffian would have writ
With so profane a pen unto his friend?
The modest paper e'en looks pale for grief,
To feel her virgin-check defiled and stained
With such a black and criminal inscription.
Well, I had thought my son could not have strayed
So far from judgment as to mart himself
Thus cheaply in the open trade of scorn
To jeering folly and fantastic 'humour'.
But now I see opinion is a fool,
And hath abused my senses. — Musco.

MUS. Sir.

LOR. SE. What, is the fellow gone that brought this letter?

MUS. Yes sir, a pretty while since.

LOR. SE. And where's Lorenzo?

MUS. In his chamber, sir.

LOR. SE. He spake not with the fellow, did he?

MUS. No, sir, he saw him not.

LOR. SE. Then, Musco, take this letter, and deliver it unto Lorenzo: but,
sirrah, on your life take you no knowledge I have opened it.

MUS. O Lord, sir, that were a jest indeed.

LOR. SE. I am resolv'd I will not cross his journey,
Nor will I practise any violent means
To stay the hot and lusty course of youth.
For youth restrained straight grows impatient,
And, in condition, like an eager dog,
Who, ne'er so little from his game withheld,
Turns head and leaps up at his master's throat.
Therefore I'll study, by some milder drift,
To call my son unto a happier shrift.


MUS. Yes, sir, on my word he opened it, and read the contents.

LOR. JU. It scarce contents me that he did so. But, Musco, didst thou
observe his countenance in the reading of it, whether he were angry or

MUS. Why, sir, I saw him not read it.

LOR. JU. No? how knowest thou then that he opened it?

MUS. Marry, sir, because he charg'd me on my life to tell nobody that he
opened it, which, unless he had done, he would never fear to have it

LOR. JU. That's true: well, Musco, hie thee in again,
Lest thy protracted absence do lend light,
To dark suspicion: Musco, be assured
I'll not forget this thy respective love.

STEP. Oh, Musco, didst thou not see a fellow here in a what-sha-call-him
doublet; he brought mine uncle a letter even now?

MUS. Yes, sir, what of him?

STEP. Where is he, canst thou tell?

MUS. Why, he is gone.

STEP. Gone? which way? when went he? how long since?

MUS. It's almost half an hour ago since he rode hence.

STEP. Whoreson scanderbag rogue; oh that I had a horse; by God's lid, I'd
fetch him back again, with heave and ho.

MUS. Why, you may have my master's bay gelding, an you will.

STEP. But I have no boots, that's the spite on it.

MUS. Then it's no boot to follow him. Let him go and hang, sir.

STEP. Ay, by my troth; Musco, I pray thee help to truss me a little;
nothing angers me, but I have waited such a while for him all unlac'd and
untrussed yonder; and how to see he is gone the other way.

MUS. Nay, I pray you stand still, sir.

STEP. I will, I will: oh, how it vexes me.

MUS. Tut, never vex yourself with the thought of such a base fellow as he.

STEP. Nay, to see he stood upon points with me too.

MUS. Like enough so; that was because he saw you had so few at your hose.

STEP. What! Hast thou done? Godamercy, good Musco.

MUS. I marle, sir, you wear such ill-favoured coarse stockings, having so
good a leg as you have.

STEP. Foh! the stockings be good enough for this time of the year; but
I'll have a pair of silk, e'er it be long: I think my leg would shew well
in a silk hose.

MUS. Ay, afore God, would it, rarely well.

STEP. In sadness I think it would: I have a reasonable good leg?

MUS. You have an excellent good leg, sir: I pray you pardon me. I have a
little haste in, sir.

STEP. A thousand thanks, good Musco.
What, I hope he laughs not at me; an he do —

LOR. JU. Here is a style indeed, for a man's senses to leap over, e'er
they come at it: why, it is able to break the shins of any old man's
patience in the world. My father read this with patience? Then will I be
made an Eunuch, and learn to sing Ballads. I do not deny, but my father
may have as much patience as any other man; for he used to take physic, and
oft taking physic makes a man a very patient creature. But, Signior
Prospero, had your swaggering Epistle here arrived in my father's hands at
such an hour of his patience, I mean, when he had taken physic, it is to be
doubted whether I should have read "sweet villain here". But, what? My
wise cousin; Nay then, I'll furnish our feast with one Gull more toward a
mess; he writes to me of two, and here's one, that's three, i'faith. Oh
for a fourth! now, Fortune, or never, Fortune!

STEP. Oh, now I see who he laughed at: he laughed at somebody in that
letter. By this good light, an he had laughed at me, I would have told
mine uncle.

LOR. JU. Cousin Stephano: good morrow, good cousin, how fare you?

STEP. The better for your asking, I will assure you. I have been all
about to seek you. Since I came I saw mine uncle; and i'faith how have you
done this great while? Good Lord, by my troth, I am glad you are well,

LOR. JU. And I am as glad of your coming, I protest to you, for I am sent
for by a private gentleman, my most special dear friend, to come to him to
Florence this morning, and you shall go with me, cousin, if it please you,
not else, I will enjoin you no further than stands with your own consent,
and the condition of a friend.

STEP. Why, cousin, you shall command me an 'twere twice so far as
Florence, to do you good; what, do you think I will not go with you? I
protest —

LOR. JU. Nay, nay, you shall not protest

STEP. By God, but I will, sir, by your leave I'll protest more to my
friend than I'll speak of at this time.

LOR. JU. You speak very well, sir.

STEP. Nay, not so neither, but I speak to serve my turn.

LOR. JU. Your turn? why, cousin, a gentleman of so fair sort as you are,
of so true carriage, so special good parts; of so dear and choice
estimation; one whose lowest condition bears the stamp of a great spirit;
nay more, a man so graced, gilded, or rather, to use a more fit metaphor,
tinfoiled by nature; not that you have a leaden constitution, coz, although
perhaps a little inclining to that temper, and so the more apt to melt with
pity, when you fall into the fire of rage, but for your lustre only, which
reflects as bright to the world as an old ale-wife's pewter again a good
time; and will you now, with nice modesty, hide such real ornaments as
these, and shadow their glory as a milliner's wife doth her wrought
stomacher, with a smoky lawn or a black cyprus? Come, come; for shame do
not wrong the quality of your dessert in so poor a kind; but let the idea
of what you are be portrayed in your aspect, that men may read in your
looks: "Here within this place is to be seen the most admirable, rare, and
accomplished work of nature!" Cousin, what think you of this?

STEP. Marry, I do think of it, and I will be more melancholy and
gentlemanlike than I have been, I do ensure you.

LOR. JU. Why, this is well: now if I can but hold up this humour in him,
as it is begun, Catso for Florence, match him an she can. Come, cousin.

STEP. I'll follow you.

LOR. JU. Follow me! you must go before!

STEP. Must I? nay, then I pray you shew me, good cousin.


MAT. I think this be the house: what ho!

COB. Who's there? oh, Signior Matheo. God give you good morrow, sir.

MAT. What? Cob? how doest thou, good Cob? does thou inhabit here, Cob?

COB. Ay, sir, I and my lineage have kept a poor house in our days.

MAT. Thy lineage, Monsieur Cob! what lineage, what lineage?

COB. Why, sir, an ancient lineage, and a princely: mine ancestry came
from a king's loins, no worse man; and yet no man neither but 'Herring' the
king of fish, one of the monarchs of the world, I assure you. I do fetch
my pedigree and name from the first red herring that was eaten in Adam and
Eve's kitchen: his 'Cob' was my great, great, mighty great grandfather.

MAT. Why mighty? why mighty?

COB. Oh, it's a mighty while ago, sir, and it was a mighty great Cob.

MAT. How knowest thou that?

COB. How know I? why, his ghost comes to me every night.

MAT. Oh, unsavoury jest: the ghost of a herring Cob.

COB. Ay, why not the ghost of a herring Cob, as well as the ghost of
Rashero Bacono, they were both broiled on the coals? you are a scholar,
upsolve me that now.

MAT. Oh, rude ignorance! Cob, canst thou shew me of a gentleman, one
Signior Bobadilla, where his lodging is?

COB. Oh, my guest, sir, you mean?

MAT. Thy guest, alas! ha, ha.

COB. Why do you laugh, sir? do you not mean Signior Bobadilla?

MAT. Cob, I pray thee advise thyself well: do not wrong the gentleman,
and thyself too. I dare be sworn he scorns thy house; he! he lodge in
such a base obscure place as thy house? Tut, I know his disposition so
well, he would not lie in thy bed if thou'dst give it him.

COB. I will not give it him. Mass, I thought somewhat was in it, we could
not get him to bed all night. Well sir, though he lie not on my bed, he
lies on my bench, an't please you to go up, sir, you shall find him with
two cushions under his head, and his cloak wrapt about him, as though he
had neither won nor lost, and yet I warrant he ne'er cast better in his
life than he hath done to-night.

MAT. Why, was he drunk?

COB. Drunk, sir? you hear not me say so; perhaps he swallow'd a tavern
token, or some such device, sir; I have nothing to do withal: I deal with
water and not with wine. Give me my tankard there, ho! God be with you,
sir; it's six o'clock: I should have carried two turns by this, what ho!
my stopple, come.

MAT. Lie in a water-bearer's house, a gentleman of his note? Well, I'll
tell him my mind.

COB. What, Tib, shew this gentleman up to Signior Bobadilla: oh, an my
house were the Brazen head now, faith it would e'en cry moe fools yet: you
should have some now, would take him to be a gentleman at least; alas, God
help the simple, his father's an honest man, a good fishmonger, and so
forth: and now doth he creep and wriggle into acquaintance with all the
brave gallants and they flout him invincibly. He useth every day to a
merchant's house, (where I serve water) one M. Thorello's; and here's the
jest, he is in love with my master's sister, and calls her mistress: and
there he sits a whole afternoon sometimes, reading of these same
abominable, vile, (a pox on them, I cannot abide them!) rascally verses,
Poetry, poetry, and speaking of 'Interludes', 'twill make a man burst to
hear him: and the wenches, they do so jeer and tihe at him; well, should
they do as much to me, I'd forswear them all, by the life of Pharaoh,
there's an oath: how many water-bearers shall you hear swear such an oath?
oh, I have a guest, (he teacheth me) he doth swear the best of any man
christened. By Phoebus, By the life of Pharaoh, By the body of me, As I am
gentleman, and a soldier: such dainty oaths; and withal he doth take this
same filthy roguish tobacco, the finest and cleanliest; it would do a man
good to see the fume come forth at his nostrils: well, he owes me forty
shillings, (my wife lent him out of her purse; by sixpence a time,) besides
his lodging; I would I had it: I shall have it, he saith, next Action.
Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, up-tails all, and a pox
on the hangman.


BOB. Hostess, hostess.

TIB. What say you, sir?

BOB. A cup of your small beer, sweet hostess.

TIB. Sir, there's a gentleman below would speak with you.

BOB. A gentleman? (God's so) I am not within.

TIB. My husband told him you were, sir.

BOB. What a plague! what meant he?

MAT. Signior Bobadilla.

BOB. Who's there? (take away the bason, good hostess) come up, sir.

TIB. He would desire you to come up, sir; you come into a cleanly house here.

MAT. God save you, sir, God save you.


BOB. Signior Matheo, is't you, sir? please you sit down.

MAT. I thank you, good Signior, you may see I am somewhat audacious.

BOB. Not so, Signior, I was requested to supper yesternight by a sort of
gallants, where you were wished for, and drunk to, I assure you.

MAT. Vouchsafe me by whom, good Signior.

BOB. Marry, by Signior Prospero, and others; why, hostess, a stool here
for this gentleman.

MAT. No haste, sir, it is very well.

BOB. Body of me, it was so late ere we parted last night, I can scarce
open mine eyes yet; I was but new risen as you came; how passes the day
abroad, sir? you can tell.

MAT. Faith, some half hour to seven: now trust me, you have an exceeding
fine lodging here, very neat, and private.

BOB. Ay, sir, sit down. I pray you, Signior Matheo, in any case possess
no gentlemen of your acquaintance with notice of my lodging.

MAT. Who? I, sir? no.

BOB. Not that I need to care who know it, but in regard I would not be so
popular and general as some be.

MAT. True, Signior, I conceive you.

BOB. For do you see, sir, by the heart of myself, (except it be to some
peculiar and choice spirits, to whom I am extraordinarily engaged, as
yourself, or so,) I could not extend thus far.

MAT. O Lord, sir! I resolve so.

BOB. What new book have you there? What? 'Go by Hieronymo'.

MAT. Ay, did you ever see it acted? is't not well penned?

BOB. Well penned: I would fain see all the Poets of our time pen such
another play as that was; they'll prate and swagger, and keep a stir of art
and devices, when (by God's so) they are the most shallow, pitiful fellows
that live upon the face of the earth again.

MAT. Indeed, here are a number of fine speeches in this book: "Oh eyes,
no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears;" there's a conceit: Fountains
fraught with tears. "Oh life, no life, but lively form of death;" is't not
excellent? "Oh world, no world, but mass of public wrongs;" O God's me:
"confused and filled with murder and misdeeds." Is't not simply the best
that ever you heard?
Ha, how do you like it?

BOB. 'Tis good.

MAT. "To thee, the purest object to my sense,
The most refined essence heaven covers,
Send I these lines, wherein I do commence
The happy state of true deserving lovers.
If they prove rough, unpolish'd, harsh, and rude,
Haste made that waste; thus mildly I conclude."

BOB. Nay, proceed, proceed, where's this? where's this?

MAT. This, sir, a toy of mine own in my non-age: but when will you come
and see my study? good faith, I can shew you some very good things I have
done of late: that boot becomes your leg passing well, sir, methinks.

BOB. So, so, it's a fashion gentlemen use.

MAT. Mass, sir, and now you speak of the fashion, Signior Prospero's elder
brother and I are fallen out exceedingly: this other day I happened to
enter into some discourse of a hanger, which, I assure you, both for
fashion and workmanship was most beautiful and gentlemanlike; yet he
condemned it for the most pied and ridiculous that ever he saw.

BOB. Signior Giuliano, was it not? the elder brother?

MAT. Ay, sir, he.

BOB. Hang him, rook! he! why, he has no more judgment than a malt-horse.
By St. George, I hold him the most peremptory absurd clown (one a them) in
Christendom: I protest to you (as I am a gentleman and a soldier) I ne'er
talk'd with the like of him: he has not so much as a good word in his
belly, all iron, iron, a good commodity for a smith to make hob-nails on.

MAT. Ay, and he thinks to carry it away with his manhood still where he
comes: he brags he will give me the bastinado, as I hear.

BOB. How, the bastinado? how came he by that word, trow?

MAT. Nay, indeed, he said cudgel me; I termed it so for the more grace.

BOB. That may be, for I was sure it was none of his word: but when, when
said he so?

MAT. Faith, yesterday, they say, a young gallant, a friend of mine, told
me so.

BOB. By the life of Pharaoh, an't were my case now, I should send him a
challenge presently: the bastinado! come hither, you shall challenge him;
I'll shew you a trick or two, you shall kill him at pleasure, the first
'stoccado' if you will, by this air.

MAT. Indeed, you have absolute knowledge in the mystery, I have heard, sir.

BOB. Of whom? of whom, I pray?

MAT. Faith, I have heard it spoken of divers, that you have very rare
skill, sir.

BOB. By heaven, no, not I, no skill in the earth: some small science,
know my time, distance, or so, I have profest it more for noblemen and
gentlemen's use than mine own practise, I assure you. Hostess, lend us
another bed-staff here quickly: look you, sir, exalt not your point above
this state at any hand, and let your poniard maintain your defence thus:
give it the gentleman. So, sir, come on, oh, twine your body more about,
that you may come to a more sweet comely gentlemanlike guard; so
indifferent. Hollow your body more, sir, thus: now stand fast on your
left leg, note your distance, keep your due proportion of time: oh, yes
disorder your point most vilely.

MAT. How is the bearing of it now, sir?

BOB. Oh, out of measure ill, a well-experienced man would pass upon you at

MAT. How mean you pass upon me?

BOB. Why, thus, sir: make a thrust at me; come in upon my time; control
your point, and make a full career at the body: the best-practis'd
gentlemen of the time term it the 'passado', a most desperate thrust,
believe it.

MAT. Well, come, sir.

BOB. Why, you do not manage your weapons with that facility and grace that
you should do, I have no spirit to play with you, your dearth of judgment
makes you seem tedious.

MAT. But one venue, sir.

BOB. Fie! venue, most gross denomination as ever I heard: oh, the
'stoccado' while you live, Signior, not that. Come, put on your cloak, and
we'll go to some private place where you are acquainted, some tavern or so,
and we'll send for one of these fencers, where he shall breathe you at my
direction, and then I'll teach you that trick; you shall kill him with it
at the first if you please: why, I'll learn you by the true judgment of
the eye, hand, and foot, to control any man's point in the world; Should
your adversary confront you with a pistol, 'twere nothing, you should (by
the same rule) control the bullet, most certain, by Phoebus: unless it
were hail-shot: what money have you about you, sir?

MAT. Faith, I have not past two shillings, or so.

BOB. 'Tis somewhat with the least, but come, when we have done, we'll call
up Signior Prospero; perhaps we shall meet with Coridon his brother there.



THO. Piso, come hither: there lies a note within, upon my desk; here,
take my key: it's no matter neither, where's the boy?

PIS. Within, sir, in the warehouse.

THO. Let him tell over that Spanish gold, and weigh it, and do you see the
delivery of those wares to Signior Bentivole: I'll be there myself at the
receipt of the money anon.

PIS. Very good, sir.

THO. Brother, did you see that same fellow there?

GIU. Ay, what of him?

THO. He is e'en the honestest, faithful servant that is this day in
Florence; (I speak a proud word now;) and one that I durst trust my life
into his hands, I have so strong opinion of his love, if need were.

GIU. God send me never such need: but you said you had somewhat to tell
me, what is't?

THO. Faith, brother, I am loath to utter it,
As fearing to abuse your patience,
But that I know your judgment more direct,
Able to sway the nearest of affection.

GIU. Come, come, what needs this circumstance?

THO. I will not say what honour I ascribe
Unto your friendship, nor in what dear state
I hold your love; let my continued zeal,
The constant and religious regard,
That I have ever carried to your name,
My carriage with your sister, all contest,
How much I stand affected to your house.

GIU. You are too tedious, come to the matter, come to the matter.

THO. Then (without further ceremony) thus.
My brother Prospero (I know not how)
Of late is much declined from what he was,
And greatly alter'd in his disposition.
When he came first to lodge here in my house,
Ne'er trust me, if I was not proud of him:
Methought he bare himself with such observance,
So true election and so fair a form:
And (what was chief) it shew'd not borrow'd in him,
But all he did became him as his own,
And seem'd as perfect, proper, and innate,
Unto the mind, as colour to the blood,
But now, his course is so irregular,
So loose affected, and deprived of grace,
And he himself withal so far fallen off
From his first place, that scarce no note remains,
To tell men's judgments where he lately stood;
He's grown a stranger to all due respect,
Forgetful of his friends, and not content
To stale himself in all societies,
He makes my house as common as a Mart,
A Theatre, a public receptacle
For giddy humour, and diseased riot,
And there, (as in a tavern, or a stews,)
He, and his wild associates, spend their hours,
In repetition of lascivious jests,
Swear, leap, and dance, and revel night by night,
Control my servants: and indeed what not?

GIU. Faith, I know not what I should say to him: so God save me, I am
e'en at my wits' end, I have told him enough, one would think, if that
would serve: well, he knows what to trust to for me: let him spend, and
spend, and domineer till his heart ache: an he get a penny more of me,
I'll give him this ear.

THO. Nay, good brother, have patience.

GIU. 'Sblood, he made me, I could eat my very flesh for anger: I marle
you will not tell him of it, how he disquiets your house.

THO. O, there are divers reasons to dissuade me,
But would yourself vouchsafe to travail in it,
(Though but with plain and easy circumstance,)
It would both come much better to his sense,
And savour less of grief and discontent.
You are his elder brother, and that title
Confirms and warrants your authority:
Which (seconded by your aspect) will breed
A kind of duty in him, and regard.
Whereas, if I should intimate the least,
It would but add contempt to his neglect,
Heap worse on ill, rear a huge pile of hate,
That in the building would come tottering down,
And in her ruins bury all our love.
Nay, more than this, brother; if I should speak,
He would be ready in the heat of passion,
To fill the ears of his familiars,
With oft reporting to them, what disgrace
And gross disparagement I had proposed him.
And then would they straight back him in opinion,
Make some loose comment upon every word,
And out of their distracted phantasies,
Contrive some slander, that should dwell with me.
And what would that be, think you? marry, this,
They would give out, (because my wife is fair,
Myself but lately married, and my sister
Here sojourning a virgin in my house,)
That I were jealous: nay, as sure as death,
Thus they would say: and how that I had wrong'd
My brother purposely, thereby to find
An apt pretext to banish them my house.

GIU. Mass, perhaps so.

THO. Brother, they would, believe it: so should I
(Like one of these penurious quack-salvers)
But try experiments upon myself,
Open the gates unto mine own disgrace,
Lend bare-ribb'd envy opportunity
To stab my reputation, and good name.

MAT. I will speak to him.

BOB. Speak to him? away, by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not, you shall
not do him that grace: the time of day to you, gentlemen: is Signior
Prospero stirring?

GIU. How then? what should he do?

BOB. Signior Thorello, is he within sir?

THO. He came not to his lodging to-night, sir, I assure you.

GIU. Why, do you hear? you.

BOB. This gentleman hath satisfied me, I'll talk to no Scavenger.

GIU. How, Scavenger? stay, sir, stay.

THO. Nay, brother Giuliano.

GIU. 'Sblood, stand you away, an you love me.

THO. You shall not follow him now, I pray you,
Good faith, you shall not.

GIU. Ha! Scavenger! well, go to, I say little, but, by this good day,
(God forgive me I should swear) if I put it up so, say I am the rankest —
that ever pist. 'Sblood, an I swallow this, I'll ne'er draw my sword in
the sight of man again while I live; I'll sit in a barn with Madge-owlet
first. Scavenger! 'Heart, and I'll go near to fill that huge tumbrel slop
of yours with somewhat, as I have good luck, your Gargantua breech cannot
carry it away so.

THO. Oh, do not fret yourself thus, never think on't.

GIU. These are my brother's consorts, these, these are his Comrades, his
walking mates, he's a gallant, a Cavaliero too, right hangman cut. God let
me not live, an I could not find in my heart to swinge the whole next of
them, one after another, and begin with him first, I am grieved it should
be said he is my brother, and take these courses, well, he shall hear on't,
and that tightly too, an I live, i'faith.

THO. But, brother, let your apprehension (then)
Run in an easy current, not transported
With heady rashness, or devouring choler,
And rather carry a persuading spirit,
Whose powers will pierce more gently; and allure
Th' imperfect thoughts you labour to reclaim,
To a more sudden and resolved assent.

GIU. Ay, ay, let me alone for that, I warrant you.


THO. How now! oh, the bell rings to breakfast.
Brother Giuliano, I pray you go in and bear my wife company: I'll but give
order to my servants for the dispatch of some business, and come to you
What, Cob! our maids will have you by the back (i'faith)
For coming so late this morning.

COB. Perhaps so, sir, take heed somebody have not them by the belly for
walking so late in the evening.

THO. Now (in good faith) my mind is somewhat eased,
Though not reposed in that security
As I could wish; well, I must be content,
Howe'er I set a face on't to the world,
Would I had lost this finger at a vent,
So Prospero had ne'er lodged in my house,
Why't cannot be, where there is such resort
Of wanton gallants, and young revellers,
That any woman should be honest long.
Is't like, that factious beauty will preserve
The sovereign state of chastity unscarr'd,
When such strong motives muster, and make head
Against her single peace? no, no: beware
When mutual pleasure sways the appetite,
And spirits of one kind and quality,
Do meet to parley in the pride of blood.
Well, (to be plain) if I but thought the time
Had answer'd their affections, all the world
Should not persuade me, but I were a cuckold:
Marry, I hope they have not got that start.
For opportunity hath balk'd them yet,
And shall do still, while I have eyes and ears
To attend the imposition of my heart:
My presence shall be as an iron bar,
'Twixt the conspiring motions of desire,
Yea, every look or glance mine eye objects,
Shall check occasion, as one doth his slave,
When he forgets the limits of prescription.

BIA. Sister Hesperida, I pray you fetch down the rose-water above in the
closet: Sweet-heart, will you come in to breakfast?

THO. An she have overheard me now?


BIA. I pray thee, (good Muss) we stay for you.

THO. By Christ, I would not for a thousand crowns.

BIA. What ail you, sweet-heart? are you not well? speak, good Muss.

THO. Troth, my head aches extremely on a sudden.

BIA. Oh Jesu!

THO. How now! what!

BIA. Good Lord, how it burns! Muss, keep you warm; good truth, it is this
new disease, there's a number are troubled withall for God's sake,
sweet-heart, come in out of the air.

THO. How simple, and how subtle are her answers!
A new disease, and many troubled with it.
Why true, she heard me all the world to nothing.

BIA. I pray thee, good sweet-heart, come in; the air will do you harm, in

THO. I'll come to you presently, it will away, I hope.

BIA. Pray God it do.

THO. A new disease! I know not, new or old,
But it may well be call'd poor mortals' Plague;
For like a pestilence it doth infect
The houses of the brain: first it begins
Solely to work upon the phantasy,
Filling her seat with such pestiferous air,
As soon corrupts the judgment, and from thence,
Sends like contagion to the memory,
Still each of other catching the infection,
Which as a searching vapour spreads itself
Confusedly through every sensive part,
Till not a thought or motion in the mind
Be free from the black poison of suspect.
Ah, but what error is it to know this,
And want the free election of the soul
In such extremes! well, I will once more strive
(Even in despite of hell) myself to be,
And shake this fever off that thus shakes me.



MUS. 'Sblood, I cannot choose but laugh to see myself translated thus,
from a poor creature to a creator; for now must I create an intolerable
sort of lies, or else my profession loses his grace, and yet the lie to a
man of my coat is as ominous as the Fico, oh sir, it holds for good policy
to have that outwardly in vilest estimation, that inwardly is most dear to
us: So much for my borrowed shape. Well, the troth is, my master intends
to follow his son dry-foot to Florence, this morning: now I, knowing of
this conspiracy, and the rather to insinuate with my young master, (for so
must we that are blue waiters, or men of service do, or else perhaps we may
wear motley at the year's end, and who wears motley you know:) I have got
me afore in this disguise, determining here to lie in ambuscado, and
intercept him in the midway; if I can but get his cloak, his purse, his
hat, nay, anything so I can stay his journey, 'Rex Regum', I am made for
ever, i'faith: well, now must I practise to get the true garb of one of
these 'Lance-knights; my arm here, and my — God's so, young master and his

LOR. JU. So, sir, and how then?


STEP. God's foot, I have lost my purse, I think.

LOR. JU. How? lost your purse? where? when had you it?

STEP. I cannot tell, stay.

MUS. 'Slid, I am afraid they will know me, would I could get by them.

LOR. JU. What! have you it?

STEP. No, I think I was bewitched, I.

LOR. JU. Nay, do not weep, a pox on it, hang it, let it go.

STEP. Oh, it's here; nay, an it had been lost, I had not cared but for a
jet ring Marina sent me.

LOR. JU. A jet ring! oh, the poesie, the poesie!

STEP. Fine, i'faith: "Though fancy sleep, my love is deep": meaning that
though I did not fancy her, yet she loved me dearly.

LOR. JU. Most excellent.

STEP. And then I sent her another, and my poesie was: "The deeper the
sweeter, I'll be judged by Saint Peter".

LOR. JU. How, by St. Peter? I do not conceive that.

STEP. Marry, St. Peter to make up the metre.

LOR. JU. Well, you are beholding to that Saint, he help'd you at your need;
thank him, thank him.

MUS. I will venture, come what will: Gentlemen, please you change a few
crowns for a very excellent good blade here; I am a poor gentleman, a
soldier, one that (in the better state of my fortunes) scorned so mean a
refuge, but now it's the humour of necessity to have it so: you seem to
be, gentlemen, well affected to martial men, else I should rather die with
silence, than live with shame: howe'er, vouchsafe to remember it is my
want speaks, not myself: this condition agrees not with my spirit.

LOR. JU. Where hast thou served?

MUS. May it please you, Signior, in all the provinces of Bohemia, Hungaria,
Dalmatia, Poland, where not? I have been a poor servitor by sea and land,
any time this xiiij. years, and follow'd the fortunes of the best
Commanders in Christendom. I was twice shot at the taking of Aleppo, once
at the relief of Vienna; I have been at America in the galleys thrice,
where I was most dangerously shot in the head, through both the thighs, and
yet, being thus maim'd I am void of maintenance, nothing left me but my
scars, the noted marks of my resolution.

STEP. How will you sell this rapier, friend?

MUS. Faith, Signior, I refer it to your own judgment; you are a gentleman,
give me what you please.

STEP. True, I am a gentleman, I know that; but what though, I pray you
say, what would you ask?

MUS. I assure you the blade may become the side of the best prince in Europe.

LOR. JU. Ay, with a velvet scabbard.

STEP. Nay, an't be mine it shall have a velvet scabbard, that is flat, I'd
not wear it as 'tis an you would give me an angel.

MUS. At your pleasure, Signior, nay, it's a most pure Toledo.

STEP. I had rather it were a Spaniard: but tell me, what shall I give you
for it? an it had a silver hilt —

LOR. JU. Come, come, you shall not buy it; hold, there's a shilling,
friend, take thy rapier.

STEP. Why, but I will buy it now, because you say so: what, shall I go
without a rapier?

LOR. JU. You may buy one in the city.

STEP. Tut, I'll buy this, so I will; tell me your lowest price.

LOR. JU. You shall not, I say.

STEP. By God's lid, but I will, though I give more than 'tis worth.

LOR. JU. Come away, you are a fool.

STEP. Friend, I'll have it for that word: follow me.

MUS. At your service, Signior.


LOR. SE. My labouring spirit being late opprest
With my son's folly, can embrace no rest
Till it hath plotted by advice and skill,
How to reduce him from affected will
To reason's manage; which while I intend,
My troubled soul begins to apprehend
A farther secret, and to meditate
Upon the difference of man's estate:
Where is decipher'd to true judgment's eye
A deep, conceal'd, and precious mystery.
Yet can I not but worthily admire
At nature's art: who (when she did inspire
This beat of life) placed Reason (as a king)
Here in the head, to have the marshalling
Of our affections: and with sovereignty
To sway the state of our weak empery.
But as in divers commonwealths we see,
The form of government to disagree:
Even so in man, who searcheth soon shall find
As much or more variety of mind.
Some men's affections like a sullen wife,
Is with her husband reason still at strife.
Others (like proud arch-traitors that rebel
Against their sovereign) practise to expel
Their liege Lord Reason, and not shame to tread
Upon his holy and anointed head.
But as that land or nation best doth thrive,
Which to smooth-fronted peace is most proclive,
So doth that mind, whose fair affections ranged
By reason's rules, stand constant and unchanged,
Else, if the power of reason be not such,
Why do we attribute to him so much?
Or why are we obsequious to his law,
If he want spirit our affects to awe?
Oh no, I argue weakly, he is strong,
Albeit my son have done him too much wrong.

MUS. My master: nay, faith, have at you: I am flesh'd now I have sped so
well: Gentleman, I beseech you respect the estate of a poor soldier; I am
ashamed of this base course of life, (God's my comfort) but extremity
provokes me to't; what remedy?

LOR. SE. I have not for you now.

MUS. By the faith I bear unto God, gentleman, it is no ordinary custom,
but only to preserve manhood. I protest to you, a man I have been, a man I
may be, by your sweet bounty.

LOR. SE. I pray thee, good friend, be satisfied.

MUS. Good Signior: by Jesu, you may do the part of a kind gentleman, in
lending a poor soldier the price of two cans of beer, a matter of small
value, the King of heaven shall pay you, and I shall rest thankful: sweet
Signior —

LOR. SE. Nay, an you be so importunate —

MUS. O Lord, sir, need will have his course: I was not made to this vile
use; well, the edge of the enemy could not have abated me so much: it's
hard when a man hath served in his Prince's cause and be thus. Signior,
let me derive a small piece of silver from you, it shall not be given in
the course of time, by this good ground, I was fain to pawn my rapier last
night for a poor supper, I am a Pagan else: sweet Signior —

LOR. SE. Believe me, I am rapt with admiration,
To think a man of thy exterior presence
Should (in the constitution of the mind)
Be so degenerate, infirm, and base.
Art thou a man? and sham'st thou not to beg?
To practise such a servile kind of life?
Why, were thy education ne'er so mean,
Having thy limbs? a thousand fairer courses
Offer themselves to thy election.
Nay, there the wars might still supply thy wants,
Or service of some virtuous gentleman,
Or honest labour; nay, what can I name,
But would become thee better than to beg?
But men of your condition feed on sloth,
As doth the Scarab on the dung she breeds in,
Not caring how the temper of your spirits
Is eaten with the rust of idleness.
Now, afore God, whate'er he be that should
Relieve a person of thy quality,
While you insist in this loose desperate course,
I would esteem the sin not thine, but his.

MUS. Faith, Signior, I would gladly find some other course, if so.

LOR. SE. Ay, you'd gladly find it, but you will not seek it.

MUS. Alas, sir, where should a man seek? in the wars, there's no ascent
by desert in these days, but — and for service, would it were as soon
purchased as wish'd for, (God's my comfort) I know what I would say.

LOR. SE. What's thy name?

MUS. Please you: Portensio.

LOR. SE. Portensio?
Say that a man should entertain thee now,
Would thou be honest, humble, just, and true?

MUS. Signior: by the place and honour of a soldier —

LOR. SE. Nay, nay, I like not these affected oaths;
Speak plainly, man: what thinkst thou of my words?

MUS. Nothing, Signior, but wish my fortunes were as happy as my service
should be honest.

LOR. SE. Well, follow me, I'll prove thee, if thy deeds
Will carry a proportion to thy words.

MUS. Yes, sir, straight, I'll but garter my hose; oh, that my belly were
hoop'd now, for I am ready to burst with laughing. 'Slid, was there ever
seen a fox in years to betray himself thus? now shall I be possest of all
his determinations, and consequently my young master; well, he is resolved
to prove my honesty: faith, and I am resolved to prove his patience: oh,
I shall abuse him intolerably: this small piece of service will bring him
clean out of love with the soldier for ever. It's no matter, let the world
think me a bad counterfeit, if I cannot give him the slip at an instant;
why, this is better than to have stayed his journey by half: well, I'll
follow him. Oh, how I long to be employed.


MAT. Yes, faith, sir, we were at your lodging to seek you too.

PROS. Oh, I came not there to-night.

BOB. Your brother delivered us as much.

PROS. Who, Giuliano?

BOB. Giuliano. Signior Prospero, I know not in what kind you value me,
but let me tell you this: as sure as God, I do hold it so much out of mine
honour and reputation, if I should but cast the least regard upon such a
dunghill of flesh; I protest to you (as I have a soul to be saved) I ne'er
saw any gentlemanlike part in him: an there were no more men living upon
the face of the earth, I should not fancy him, by Phoebus.

MAT. Troth, nor I, he is of a rustical cut, I know not how: he doth not
carry himself like a gentleman.

PROS. Oh, Signior Matheo, that's a grace peculiar but to a few; "quos
oequus amavit Jupiter".

MAT. I understand you, sir.


PROS. No question you do, sir: Lorenzo! now on my soul, welcome; how
dost thou, sweet rascal? my Genius! 'Sblood, I shall love Apollo and the
mad Thespian girls the better while I live for this; my dear villain, now I
see there's some spirit in thee: Sirrah, these be they two I writ to thee
of, nay, what a drowsy humour is this now? why dost thou not speak?

LOR. JU. Oh, you are a fine gallant, you sent me a rare letter.

PROS. Why, was't not rare?

LOR. JU. Yes, I'll be sworn I was ne'er guilty of reading the like, match
it in all Pliny's familiar Epistles, and I'll have my judgment burn'd in
the ear for a rogue, make much of thy vein, for it is inimitable. But I
marle what camel it was, that had the carriage of it? for doubtless he was
no ordinary beast that brought it.

PROS. Why?

LOR. JU. Indeed, the best use we can turn it to, is to make a jest on't
now: but I'll assure you, my father had the proving of your copy some hour
before I saw it.

PROS. What a dull slave was this! But, sirrah, what said he to it, i'faith?

LOR. JU. Nay, I know not what he said. But I have a shrewd guess what he

PRO. What? what?

LOR. JU. Marry, that thou are a damn'd dissolute villain,
And I some grain or two better, in keeping thee company.

PROS. Tut, that thought is like the moon in the last quarter, 'twill
change shortly: but, sirrah, I pray thee be acquainted with my two Zanies
here, thou wilt take exceeding pleasure in them if thou bear'st them once,
but what strange piece of silence is this? the sign of the dumb man?

LOR. JU. Oh, sir, a kinsman of mine, one that may make our music the
fuller, an he please he hath his humour, sir.

PROS. Oh, what is't? what is't?

LOR. JU. Nay, I'll neither do thy judgment nor his folly that wrong, as to
prepare thy apprehension: I'll leave him to the mercy of the time, if you
can take him: so.

PROS. Well, Signior Bobadilla, Signior Matheo: I pray you know this
gentleman here, he is a friend of mine, and one that will well deserve your
affection, I know not your name, Signior, but I shall be glad of any good
occasion to be more familiar with you.

STEP. My name is Signior Stephano, sir, I am this gentleman's cousin, sir,
his father is mine uncle; sir, I am somewhat melancholy, but you shall
command me, sir, in whatsoever is incident to a gentleman.

BOB. Signior, I must tell you this, I am no general man, embrace it as a
most high favour, for (by the host of Egypt) but that I conceive you to be
a gentleman of some parts, I love few words: you have wit: imagine.

STEP. Ay, truly, sir, I am mightily given to melancholy.

MAT. O Lord, sir, it's your only best humour, sir, your true melancholy
breeds your perfect fine wit, sir: I am melancholy myself divers times,
sir, and then do I no more but take your pen and paper presently, and write
you your half score or your dozen of sonnets at a sitting.

LOR. JU. Mass, then he utters them by the gross.

STEP. Truly, sir, and I love such things out of measure.

LOR. JU. I'faith, as well as in measure.

MAT. Why, I pray you, Signior, make use of my study, it's at your service.

STEP. I thank you, sir, I shall be bold, I warrant you, have you a close
stool there?

MAT. Faith, sir, I have some papers there, toys of mine own doing at idle
hours, that you'll say there's some sparks of wit in them, when you shall
see them.

PROS. Would they were kindled once, and a good fire made, I might see
self-love burn'd for her heresy.

STEP. Cousin, is it well? am I melancholy enough?

LOR. JU. Oh, ay, excellent.

PROS. Signior Bobadilla, why muse you so?

LOR. JU. He is melancholy too.

BOB. Faith, sir, I was thinking of a most honourable piece of service was
perform'd to-morrow, being St. Mark's day, shall be some ten years.

LOR. JU. In what place was that service, I pray you, sir?

BOB. Why, at the beleaguering of Ghibelletto, where, in less than two
hours, seven hundred resolute gentlemen, as any were in Europe, lost their
lives upon the breach: I'll tell you, gentlemen, it was the first, but the
best leaguer that ever I beheld with these eyes, except the taking in of
Tortosa last year by the Genoways, but that (of all other) was the most
fatal and dangerous exploit that ever I was ranged in, since I first bore
arms before the face of the enemy, as I am a gentleman and a soldier.

STEP. So, I had as lief as an angel I could swear as well as that gentleman.

LOR. JU. Then you were a servitor at both, it seems.

BOB. O Lord, sir: by Phaeton, I was the first man that entered the
breach, and had I not effected it with resolution, I had been slain if I
had had a million of lives.

LOR. JU. Indeed, sir?

STEP. Nay, an you heard him discourse you would say so: how like you him?

BOB. I assure you (upon my salvation) 'tis true, and yourself shall confess.

PROS. You must bring him to the rack first.

BOB. Observe me judicially, sweet Signior: they had planted me a
demi-culverin just in the mouth of the breach; now, sir, (as we were to
ascend), their master gunner (a man of no mean skill and courage, you must
think,) confronts me with his linstock ready to give fire; I spying his
intendment, discharged my petronel in his bosom, and with this instrument,
my poor rapier, ran violently upon the Moors that guarded the ordnance, and
put them pell-mell to the sword.

PROS. To the sword? to the rapier, Signior.

LOR. JU. Oh, it was a good figure observed, sir: but did you all this,
Signior, without hurting your blade?

BOB. Without any impeach on the earth: you shall perceive, sir, it is the
most fortunate weapon that ever rid on a poor gentleman's thigh: shall I
tell you, sir? you talk of Morglay, Excalibur, Durindana, or so: tut, I
lend no credit to that is reported of them, I know the virtue of mine own,
and therefore I dare the boldlier maintain it.

STEP. I marle whether it be a Toledo or no?

BOB. A most perfect Toledo, I assure you, Signior.

STEP. I have a countryman of his here.

MAT. Pray you let's see, sir: yes, faith, it is.

BOB. This a Toledo? pish!

STEP. Why do you pish, Signior?

BOB. A Fleming, by Phoebus! I'll buy them for a guilder a piece, an I'll
have a thousand of them.

LOR. JU. How say you, cousin? I told you thus much.

PROS. Where bought you it, Signior?

STEP. Of a scurvy rogue soldier, a pox of God on him, he swore it was a

BOB. A preovant rapier, no better.

MAT. Mass, I think it be indeed.

LOR. JU. Tut, now it's too late to look on it, put it up, put it up.

STEP. Well, I will not put it up, but by God's foot, an ever I meet him -

PROS. Oh, it is past remedy now, sir, you must have patience.

STEP. Whoreson, coney-catching rascal; oh, I could eat the very hilts for

LOR. JU. A sign you have a good ostrich stomach, cousin.

STEP. A stomach? would I had him here, you should see an I had a stomach.

PROS. It's better as 'tis: come, gentlemen, shall we go?

LOR. JU. A miracle, cousin, look here, look here.


STEP. Oh, God's lid, by your leave, do you know me, sir?

MUS. Ay, sir, I know you by sight.

STEP. You sold me a rapier, did you not?

MUS. Yes, marry did I, sir.

STEP. You said it was a Toledo, ha?

MUS. True, I did so.

STEP. But it is none.

MUS. No, sir, I confess it, it is none.

STEP. Gentlemen, bear witness, he has confest it. By God's lid, an you
had not confest it —

LOR. JU. Oh, cousin, forbear, forbear.

STEP. Nay, I have done, cousin.

PROS. Why, you have done like a gentleman, he has confest it, what would
you more?

LOR. JU. Sirrah, how dost thou like him?

PROS. Oh, it's a precious good fool, make much on him: I can compare him
to nothing more happily than a barber's virginals; for every one may play
upon him.

MUS. Gentleman, shall I intreat a word with you?

LOR. JU. With all my heart, sir, you have not another Toledo to sell, have

MUS. You are pleasant, your name is Signior Lorenzo, as I take it?

LOR. JU. You are in the right: 'Sblood, he means to catechise me, I think.

MUS. No, sir, I leave that to the Curate, I am none of that coat.

LOR. JU. And yet of as bare a coat; well, say, sir.

MUS. Faith, Signior, I am but servant to God Mars extraordinary, and
indeed (this brass varnish being washed off, and three or four other tricks
sublated) I appear yours in reversion, after the decease of your good
father, Musco.

LOR. JU. Musco, 'sblood, what wind hath blown thee hither in this shape?

MUS. Your easterly wind, sir, the same that blew your father hither.

LOR. JU. My father?

MUS. Nay, never start, it's true, he is come to town of purpose to seek you.

LOR. JU. Sirrah Prospero, what shall we do, sirrah? my father is come to
the city.

PROS. Thy father: where is he?

MUS. At a gentleman's house yonder by St. Anthony's, where he but stays my
return; and then —

PROS. Who's this? Musco?

MUS. The same, sir.

PROS. Why, how com'st thou transmuted thus?

MUS. Faith, a device, a device, nay, for the love of God, stand not here,
gentlemen, house yourselves, and I'll tell you all.

LOR. JU. But are thou sure he will stay thy return?

MUS. Do I live, sir? what a question is that!

PROS. Well, we'll prorogue his expectation a little: Musco, thou shalt go
with us: Come on, gentlemen: nay, I pray thee, (good rascal) droop not,
'sheart, an our wits be so gouty, that one old plodding brain can outstrip
us all. Lord, I beseech thee, may they lie and starve in some miserable
spittle, where they may never see the face of any true spirit again, but be
perpetually haunted with some church-yard hobgoblin in seculo seculorum

MUS. Amen, Amen.



PIS. He will expect you, sir, within this half hour.

THO. Why, what's a clock?

PIS. New stricken ten.

THO. Hath he the money ready, can you tell?

PIS. Yes, sir, Baptista brought it yesternight.

THO. Oh, that's well: fetch me my cloak.
Stay, let me see; an hour to go and come,
Ay, that will be the least: and then 'twill be
An hour before I can dispatch with him;
Or very near: well, I will say two hours;
Two hours? ha! things never dreamt of yet
May be contrived, ay, and effected too,
In two hours' absence: well, I will not go.
Two hours; no, fleering opportunity,
I will not give your treachery that scope.
Who will not judge him worthy to be robb'd,
That sets his doors wide open to a thief,
And shews the felon where his treasure lies?
Again, what earthy spirit but will attempt
To taste the fruit of beauty's golden tree,
When leaden sleep seals up the dragon's eyes?
Oh, beauty is a project of some power,
Chiefly when opportunity attends her:
She will infuse true motion in a stone,
Put glowing fire in an icy soul,
Stuff peasants' bosoms with proud Caesar's spleen,
Pour rich device into an empty brain:
Bring youth to folly's gate: there train him in,
And after all, extenuate his sin.
Well, I will not go, I am resolved for that.
Go, carry it again: yet stay: yet do too,
I will defer it till some other time.

PIS. Sir. Signior Platano will meet you there with the bond.

THO. That's true: by Jesu, I had clean forgot it.
I must go, what's a clock?

PIS. Past ten, sir.

THO. 'Heart, then will Prospero presently be here too,
With one or other of his loose consorts.
I am a Jew if I know what to say,
What course to take, or which way to resolve.
My brain (methinks) is like an hour-glass,
And my imaginations like the sands
Run dribbling forth to fill the mouth of time,
Still changed with turning in the ventricle.
What were I best to do? it shall be so.
Nay, I dare build upon his secrecy. Piso.

PIS. Sir.

THO. Yet now I have bethought me too, I will not.
Is Cob within?

PIS. I think he be, sir.

THO. But he'll prate too, there's no talk of him.
No, there were no course upon the earth to this,
If I durst trust him; tut, I were secure,
But there's the question now, if he should prove,
'Rimarum plenus', then, 'sblood, I were rook'd.
The state that he hath stood in till this present
Doth promise no such change: what should I fear then?
Well, come what will, I'll tempt my fortune once.
Piso, thou mayest deceive me, but I think thou lovest me, Piso.

PIS. Sir, if a servant's zeal and humble duty may be term'd love, you are
possest of it.

THO. I have a matter to impart to thee, but thou must be secret, Piso.

PIS. Sir, for that —

THO. Nay, hear me, man; think I esteem thee well,
To let thee in thus to my private thoughts;
Piso, it is a thing sits nearer to my crest,
Than thou art 'ware of; if thou should'st reveal it —

PIS. Reveal it, sir?

THO. Nay, I do not think thou would'st, but if thou should'st —

PIS. Sir, then I were a villain:
Disclaim in me for ever if I do.

THO. He will not swear: he has some meaning, sure,
Else (being urged so much) how should he choose,
But lend an oath to all this protestation?
He is no puritan, that I am certain of.
What should I think of it? urge him again,
And in some other form: I will do so.
Well, Piso, thou has sworn not to disclose; ay, you did swear?

PIS. Not yet, sir, but I will, so please you.

THO. Nay, I dare take thy word.
But if thou wilt swear, do as you think good,
I am resolved without such circumstance.

PIS. By my soul's safety, sir, I here protest,
My tongue shall ne'er take knowledge of a word
Deliver'd me in compass of your trust.

THO. Enough, enough, these ceremonies need not,
I know thy faith to be as firm as brass.
Piso, come hither: nay, we must be close
In managing these actions: So it is,
(Now he has sworn I dare the safelier speak;)
I have of late by divers observations —
But, whether his oath be lawful, yea, or no? ha!
I will ask counsel ere I do proceed:
Piso, it will be now too long to stay,
We'll spy some fitter time soon, or to-morrow.

PIS. At your pleasure, sir.

THO. I pray you search the books 'gainst I return
For the receipts 'twixt me and Platano.

PIS. I will, sir.

THO. And hear you: if my brother Prospero
Chance to bring hither any gentlemen
Ere I come back, let one straight bring me word.

PIS. Very well, sir.

THO. Forget it not, nor be not you out of the way.

PIS. I will not, sir.

THO. Or whether he come or no, if any other,
Stranger or else: fail not to send me word.

PIS. Yes, sir.

THO. Have care, I pray you, and remember it.

PIS. I warrant you, sir.

THO. But, Piso, this is not the secret I told thee of.

PIS. No, sir, I suppose so.

THO. Nay, believe me, it is not.

PIS. I do believe you, sir.

THO. By heaven it is not, that's enough.
Marry, I would not thou should'st utter it to any creature living,
Yet I care not.
Well, I must hence: Piso, conceive thus much,
No ordinary person could have drawn
So deep a secret from me; I mean not this,
But that I have to tell thee: this is nothing, this.
Piso, remember, silence, buried here:
No greater hell than to be slave to fear.

PIS. Piso, remember, silence, buried here:
When should this flow of passion (trow) take head? ha!
Faith, I'll dream no longer of this running humour,
For fear I sink, the violence of the stream
Already hath transported me so far
That I can feel no ground at all: but soft,
Oh, it's our water-bearer: somewhat has crost him now.

COB. Fasting days: what tell you me of your fasting days? would they
were all on a light fire for me: they say the world shall be consumed with
fire and brimstone in the latter day: but I would we had these ember weeks
and these villainous Fridays burnt in the mean time, and then —

PIS. Why, how now, Cob! what moves thee to this choler, ha?

COB. Collar, sir? 'swounds, I scorn your collar, I, sir, am no collier's
horse, sir, never ride me with your collar, an you do, I'll shew you a
jade's trick.

PIS. Oh, you'll slip your head out of the collar: why, Cob, you mistake me.

COB. Nay, I have my rheum, and I be angry as well as another, sir.

PIE. Thy rheum? thy humour, man, thou mistakest.

COB. Humour? mack, I think it be so indeed: what is this humour? it's
some rare thing, I warrant.

PIS. Marry, I'll tell thee what it is (as 'tis generally received in these
days): it is a monster bred in a man by self-love and affectation, and fed
by folly.

COB. How? must it be fed?

PIS. Oh ay, humour is nothing if it be not fed, why, didst thou never hear
of that? it's a common phrase, "Feed my humour".

COB. I'll none on it: humour, avaunt, I know you not, be gone. Let who
will make hungry meals for you, it shall not be I: Feed you, quoth he?
'sblood, I have much ado to feed myself, especially on these lean rascal
days too, an't had been any other day but a fasting day: a plague on them
all for me: by this light, one might have done God good service and have
drown'd them all in the flood two or three hundred thousand years ago, oh,
I do stomach them hugely: I have a maw now, an't were for Sir Bevis's

PIS. Nay, but I pray thee, Cob, what makes thee so out of love with
fasting days?

COB. Marry, that that will make any man out of love with them, I think:
their bad conditions, an you will needs know: First, they are of a Flemish
breed, I am sure on't, for they raven up more butter than all the days of
the week beside: next, they stink of fish miserably: thirdly, they'll
keep a man devoutly hungry all day, and at night send him supperless to bed.

PIS. Indeed, these are faults, Cob.

COB. Nay, an this were all, 'twere something, but they are the only known
enemies to my generation. A fasting day no sooner comes, but my lineage
goes to rack, poor Cobs, they smoke for it, they melt in passion, and your
maids too know this, and yet would have me turn Hannibal, and eat my own
fish and blood: my princely coz, [PULLS OUT A RED HERRING.] fear nothing;
I have not the heart to devour you, an I might be made as rich as Golias:
oh, that I had room for my tears, I could weep salt water enough now to
preserve the lives of ten thousand of my kin: but I may curse none but
these filthy Almanacks, for an 'twere not for them, these days of
persecution would ne'er be known. I'll be hang'd an some fishmonger's son
do not make on them, and puts in more fasting days than he should do,
because he would utter his father's dried stock-fish.

PIS. 'Soul, peace, thou'lt be beaten like a stockfish else: here is
Signior Matheo.
Now must I look out for a messenger to my master.


PROS. Beshrew me, but it was an absolute good jest, and exceedingly well

LOR. JU. Ay, and our ignorance maintain'd it as well, did it not?

PROS. Yes, faith, but was't possible thou should'st not know him?

LOR. JU. 'Fore God, not I, an I might have been join'd patten with one of
the nine worthies for knowing him. 'Sblood, man, he had so writhen himself
into the habit of one of your poor Disparview's here, your decayed,
ruinous, worm-eaten gentlemen of the round: such as have vowed to sit on
the skirts of the city, let your Provost and his half dozen of halberdiers
do what they can; and have translated begging out of the old hackney pace,
to a fine easy amble, and made it run as smooth off the tongue as a
shove-groat shilling, into the likeness of one of these lean Pirgo's, had
he moulded himself so perfectly, observing every trick of their action, as
varying the accent: swearing with an emphasis. Indeed, all with so
special and exquisite a grace, that (hadst thou seen him) thou would'st
have sworn he might have been the Tamberlane, or the Agamemnon on the rout.

PROS. Why, Musco, who would have thought thou hadst been such a gallant?

LOR. JU. I cannot tell, but (unless a man had juggled begging all his life
time, and been a weaver of phrases from his infancy, for the apparelling of
it) I think the world cannot produce his rival.

PROS. Where got'st thou this coat, I marle?

MUS. Faith, sir, I had it of one of the devil's near kinsmen, a broker.

PROS. That cannot be, if the proverb hold, a crafty knave needs no broker.

MUS. True, sir, but I need a broker, ergo, no crafty knave.

PROS. Well put off, well put off.

LOR. JU. Tut, he has more of these shifts.

MUS. And yet where I have one, the broker has ten, sir.


PIS. Francisco, Martino, ne'er a one to be found now: what a spite's this?

PROS. How now, Piso? is my brother within?

PIS. No, sir, my master went forth e'en now, but Signior Giuliano is
within. Cob, what, Cob! Is he gone too?

PROS. Whither went thy master? Piso, canst thou tell?

PIS. I know not, to Doctor Clement's, I think, sir. Cob.


LOR. JU. Doctor Clement, what's he? I have heard much speech of him.

PROS. Why, dost thou not know him? he is the Gonfaloniere of the state
here, an excellent rare civilian, and a great scholar, but the only mad
merry old fellow in Europe: I shewed him you the other day.

LOR. JU. Oh, I remember him now; Good faith, and he hath a very strange
presence, methinks, it shews as if he stood out of the rank from other men.
I have heard many of his jests in Padua; they say he will commit a man for
taking the wall of his horse.

PROS. Ay, or wearing his cloak on one shoulder, or any thing indeed, if it
come in the way of his humour.

PIS. Gaspar, Martino, Cob: 'Sheart, where should they be, trow?


BOB. Signior Thorello's man, I pray thee vouchsafe us the lighting of this

PIS. A pox on your match, no time but now to vouchsafe? Francisco, Cob.

BOB. Body of me: here's the remainder of seven pound, since yesterday was
sevennight. It's your right Trinidado: did you never take any, signior?

STEP. No, truly, sir; but I'll learn to take it now, since you commend it so.

BOB. Signior, believe me (upon my relation) for what I tell you, the world
shall not improve. I have been in the Indies, (where this herb grows)
where neither myself nor a dozen gentlemen more (of my knowledge) have
received the taste of any other nutriment in the world, for the space of
one and twenty weeks, but tobacco only. Therefore it cannot be but 'tis
most divine. Further, take it in the nature, in the true kind, so, it
makes an antidote, that had you taken the most deadly poisonous simple in
all Florence it should expel it, and clarify you with as much ease as I
speak. And for your green wound, your Balsamum, and your — are all mere
gulleries, and trash to it, especially your Trinidado: your Nicotian is
good too: I would say what I know of the virtue of it, for the exposing of
rheums, raw humours, crudities, obstructions, with a thousand of this kind;
but I profess myself no quack-salver. Only thus much; by Hercules, I do
hold it, and will affirm it (before any Prince in Europe) to be the most
sovereign and precious herb that ever the earth tendered to the use of man.

LOR. JU. Oh, this speech would have done rare in an apothecary's mouth.

PIS. Ay; close by Saint Anthony's: Doctor Clement's.

COB. Oh, oh.

BOB. Where's the match I gave thee?

PIS. 'Sblood, would his match, and he, and pipe, and all, were at Sancto

COB. By God's deins, I marle what pleasure or felicity they have in taking
this roguish tobacco; it's good for nothing but to choke a man, and fill
him full of smoke and embers: there were four died out of one house last
week with taking of it, and two more the bell went for yesternight, one of
them (they say) will ne'er escape it, he voided a bushel of soot yesterday,
upward and downward. By the stocks, an there were no wiser men than I, I'd
have it present death, man or woman, that should but deal with a tobacco
pipe; why, it will stifle them all in the end as many as use it; it's
little better than rat's-bane.

ALL. Oh, good Signior; hold, hold.

BOB. You base cullion, you.

PIS. Sir, here's your match; come, thou must needs be talking too.

COB. Nay, he will not meddle with his match, I warrant you; well, it shall
be a dear beating, an I life.

BOB. Do you prate?

LOR. JU. Nay, good Signior, will you regard the humour of a fool? Away,

PROS. Piso, get him away.

BOB. A whoreson filthy slave, a turd, an excrement. Body of Caesar, but
that I scorn to let forth so mean a spirit, I'd have stabb'd him to the

PROS. Marry, God forbid, sir.

BOB. By this fair heaven, I would have done it.

STEP. Oh, he swears admirably; (by this fair heaven!) Body of Caesar: I
shall never do it, sure (upon my salvation). No, I have not the right

MAT. Signior, will you any? By this air, the most divine tobacco as ever
I drunk.

LOR. JU. I thank you, sir.

STEP. Oh, this gentleman doth it rarely too, but nothing like the other.
By this air, as I am a gentleman: By Phoebus.

MUS. Master, glance, glance: Signior Prospero.

STEP. As I have a soul to be saved, I do protest —

PROS. That you are a fool.

LOR. JU. Cousin, will you any tobacco?

STEP. Ay, sir: upon my salvation.

LOR. JU. How now, cousin?

STEP. I protest, as I am a gentleman, but no soldier indeed.

PROS. No, Signior, as I remember, you served on a great horse, last
general muster.

STEP. Ay, sir, that's true, cousin, may I swear as I am a soldier, by that?

LOR. JU. Oh yes, that you may.

STEP. Then as I am a gentleman, and a soldier, it is divine tobacco.

PROS. But soft, where's Signior Matheo? gone?

MUS. No, sir, they went in here.

PROS. Oh, let's follow them: Signior Matheo is gone to salute his
mistress, sirrah, now thou shalt hear some of his verses, for he never
comes hither without some shreds of poetry: Come, Signior Stephano. Musco.

STEP. Musco? where? I this Musco?

LOR. JU. Ay; but peace, cousin, no words of it at any hand.

STEP. Not I, by this fair heaven, as I have a soul to be saved, by Phoebus.

PROS. Oh rare! your cousin's discourse is simply suited, all in oaths.

LOR. JU. Ay, he lacks nothing but a little light stuff, to draw them out
withal, and he were rarely fitted to the time.


THO. Ha, how many are there, sayest thou?

COB. Marry, sir, your brother, Signior Prospero.

THO. Tut, beside him: what strangers are there, man?

COB. Strangers? let me see, one, two; mass, I know not well, there's so many.

THO. How? so many?

COB. Ay, there's some five or six of them at the most.

THO. A swarm, a swarm?
Spite of the devil, how they sting my heart!
How long hast thou been coming hither, Cob?

COB. But a little while, sir.

THO. Didst thou come running?

COB. No, sir.

THO. Tut, then I am familiar with thy haste.
Ban to my fortunes: what meant I to marry?
I that before was rank'd in such content,
My mind attired in smooth silken peace,
Being free master of mine own free thoughts,
And now become a slave? what, never sigh,
Be of good cheer, man: for thou art a cuckold,
'Tis done, 'tis done: nay, when such flowing store,
Plenty itself falls in my wife's lap,
The Cornucopiae will be mine, I know. But, Cob,
What entertainment had they? I am sure
My sister and my wife would bid them welcome, ha?

COB. Like enough: yet I heard not a word of welcome.

THO. No, their lips were seal'd with kisses, and the voice
Drown'd in a flood of joy at their arrival,
Had lost her motion, state, and faculty.
Cob, which of them was't that first kiss'd my wife?
(My sister, I should say,) my wife, alas,
I fear not her: ha? who was it, say'st thou?

COB. By my troth, sir, will you have the truth of it?

THO. Oh ay, good Cob: I pray thee.

COB. God's my judge, I saw nobody to be kiss'd, unless they would have
kiss'd the post in the middle of the warehouse; for there I left them all,
at their tobacco, with a pox.

THO. How? were they not gone in then ere thou cam'st?

COB. Oh no, sir.

THO. Spite of the devil, what do I stay here then?
Cob, follow me.

COB. Nay, soft and fair, I have eggs on the spit; I cannot go yet sir:
now am I for some divers reasons hammering, hammering revenge: oh, for
three or four gallons of vinegar, to sharpen my wits: Revenge, vinegar
revenge, russet revenge; nay, an he had not lien in my house, 'twould never
have grieved me; but being my guest, one that I'll be sworn my wife has
lent him her smock off her back, while his own shirt has been at washing:
pawned her neckerchers for clean bands for him: sold almost all my
platters to buy him tobacco; and yet to see an ingratitude wretch strike
his host; well, I hope to raise up an host of furies for't: here comes M.

CLEM. What's Signior Thorello gone?

PET. Ay, sir.

CLEM. Heart of me, what made him leave us so abruptly? How now, sirrah;
what make you here? what would you have, ha?

COB. An't please your worship, I am a poor neighbour of your worship's.

CLEM. A neighbour of mine, knave?

COB. Ay, sir, at the sign of the Water-tankard, hard by the Green Lattice:
I have paid soot and lot there any time this eighteen years.

CLEM. What, at the Green Lattice?

COB. No sir: to the parish: marry, I have seldom scaped scot-free at the

CLEM. So: but what business hath my neighbour?

COB. An't like your worship, I am come to crave the peace of your worship.

CLEM. Of me, knave? peace of me, knave? did I e'er hurt thee? did I
ever threaten thee? or wrong thee? ha?

COB. No, God's my comfort, I mean your worship's warrant, for one that
hath wrong'd me, sir: his arms are at too much liberty, I would fain have
them bound to a treaty of peace, an I could by any means compass it.

LOR. SE. Why, dost thou go in danger of thy life for him?

COB. No, sir; but I go in danger of my death every hour by his means; an I
die within a twelve-month and a day, I may swear, by the laws of the land,
that he kill'd me.

CLEM. How? how, knave? swear he kill'd thee? what pretext? what colour
hast thou for that?

COB. Marry, sir, both black and blue, colour enough, I warrant you, I have
it here to shew your worship.

CLEM. What is he that gave you this, sirrah?

COB. A gentleman in the city, sir.

CLEM. A gentleman? what call you him?

COB. Signior Bobadilla.

CLEM. Good: But wherefore did he beat you, sirrah? how began the quarrel
'twixt you? ha: speak truly, knave, I advise you.

COB. Marry, sir, because I spake against their vagrant tobacco, as I came
by them: for nothing else.

CLEM. Ha, you speak against tobacco? Peto, his name.

PET. What's your name, sirrah?

COB. Oliver Cob, sir, set Oliver Cob, sir.

CLEM. Tell Oliver Cob he shall go to the jail.

PET. Oliver Cob, master Doctor says you shall go to the jail.

COB. Oh, I beseech your worship, for God's love, dear master Doctor.

CLEM. Nay, God's precious! an such drunken knaves as you are come to
dispute of tobacco once, I have done: away with him.

COB. Oh, good master Doctor, sweet gentleman.

LOR. SE. Sweet Oliver, would I could do thee any good; master Doctor, let
me intreat, sir.

CLEM. What? a tankard-bearer, a thread-bare rascal, a beggar, a slave
that never drunk out of better than piss-pot metal in his life, and he to
deprave and abuse the virtue of an herb so generally received in the courts
of princes, the chambers of nobles, the bowers of sweet ladies, the cabins
of soldiers: Peto, away with him, by God's passion, I say, go to.

COB. Dear master Doctor.

LOR. SE. Alas, poor Oliver.

CLEM. Peto: ay: and make him a warrant, he shall not go, I but fear the

COB. O divine Doctor, thanks, noble Doctor, most dainty Doctor, delicious

CLEM. Signior Lorenzo: God's pity, man,
Be merry, be merry, leave these dumps.

LOR. SE. Troth, would I could, sir: but enforced mirth
(In my weak judgment) has no happy birth.
The mind, being once a prisoner unto cares,
The more it dreams on joy, the worse it fares.
A smiling look is to a heavy soul
As a gilt bias to a leaden bowl,
Which (in itself) appears most vile, being spent
To no true use; but only for ostent.

CLEM. Nay, but, good Signior, hear me a word, hear me a word, your cares
are nothing; they are like my cap, soon put on, and as soon put off. What?
your son is old enough to govern himself; let him run his course, it's the
only way to make him a staid man: if he were an unthrift, a ruffian, a
drunkard, or a licentious liver, then you had reason: you had reason to
take care: but being none of these, God's passion, an I had twice so many
cares as you have, I'd drown them all in a cup of sack: come, come, I must
your parcel of a soldier returns not all this while.


GIU. Well, sister, I tell you true: and you'll find it so in the end.

BIA. Alas, brother, what would you have me to do? I cannot help it; you
see, my brother Prospero he brings them in here, they are his friends.

GIU. His friends? his friends? 'sblood, they do nothing but haunt him up
and down like a sort of unlucky sprites, and tempt him to all manner of
villainy that can be thought of; well, by this light, a little thing would
make me play the devil with some of them; an't were not more for your
husband's sake than any thing else, I'd make the house too hot for them;
they should say and swear, hell were broken loose, ere they went. But by
God's bread, 'tis nobody's fault but yours; for an you had done as you
might have done, they should have been damn'd ere they should have come in,
e'er a one of them.

BIA. God's my life; did you ever hear the like? what a strange man is
this! could I keep out all them, think you? I should put myself against
half a dozen men, should I? Good faith, you'd mad the patient'st body in
the world, to hear you talk so, without any sense or reason.

HES. Servant, (in troth) you are too prodigal of your wits' treasu
re, thus to pour it forth upon so mean a subject as my worth.

MAT. You say well, you say well.

GIU. Hoyday, here is stuff.

LOR. JU. Oh now stand close; pray God she can get him to read it.

PROS. Tut, fear not: I warrant thee he will do it of himself with much

HES. Servant, what is that same, I pray you?

MAT. Marry, an Elegy, an Elegy, an odd toy.

GIU. Ay, to mock an ape withal. O Jesu.

BIA. Sister, I pray you let's hear it.

MAT. Mistress, I'll read it, if you please.

HES. I pray you do, servant.

GIU. Oh, here's no foppery. 'Sblood, it frets me to the gall to think on it.

PROS. Oh ay, it is his condition, peace: we are fairly rid of him.

MAT. Faith, I did it in an humour: I know not how it is, but please you
come near, signior: this gentleman hath judgment, he knows how to censure
of a — I pray you, sir, you can judge.

STEP. Not I, sir: as I have a soul to be saved, as I am a gentleman.

LOR. JU. Nay, it's well; so long as he doth not forswear himself.

BOB. Signior, you abuse the excellency of your mistress and her fair
sister. Fie, while you live avoid this prolixity.

MAT. I shall, sir; well, 'incipere dulce'.

LOR. JU. How, 'incipere dulce'? a sweet thing to be a fool indeed.

PROS. What, do you take incipere in that sense?

LOR. JU. You do not, you? 'Sblood, this was your villainy to gull him
with a motte.

PROS. Oh, the benchers' phrase: 'pauca verba, pauca verba'.

MAT. "Rare creature, let me speak without offence,
Would God my rude words had the influence
To rule thy thoughts, as thy fair looks do mine,
Then shouldst thou be his prisoner, who is thine".

LOR. JU. 'Sheart, this is in 'Hero and Leander'!

PROS. Oh ay: peace, we shall have more of this.

MAT. "Be not unkind and fair: misshapen stuff
Is of behaviour boisterous and rough:"
How like you that, Signior? 'sblood, he shakes his head like a bottle, to
feel an there be any brain in it.

MAT. But observe the catastrophe now,
"And I in duty will exceed all other,
As you in beauty do excel love's mother".

LOR. JU. Well, I'll have him free of the brokers, for he utters nothing
but stolen remnants.

PROS. Nay, good critic, forbear.

LOR. JU. A pox on him, hang him, filching rogue, steal from the dead?
it's worse than sacrilege.

PROS. Sister, what have you here? verses? I pray you let's see.

BIA. Do you let them go so lightly, sister?

HES. Yes, faith, when they come lightly.

BIA. Ay, but if your servant should hear you, he would take it heavily.

HES. No matter, he is able to bear.

BIA. So are asses.

HES. So is he.

PROS. Signior Matheo, who made these verses? they are excellent good.

MAT. O God, sir, it's your pleasure to say so, sir.
Faith, I made them extempore this morning.

PROS. How extempore?

MAT. Ay, would I might be damn'd else; ask Signior Bobadilla.
He saw me write them, at the — (pox on it) the Mitre yonder.

MUS. Well, an the Pope knew he cursed the Mitre it were enough to have him
excommunicated all the taverns in the town.

STEP. Cousin, how do you like this gentleman's verses?

LOR. JU. Oh, admirable, the best that ever I heard.

STEP. By this fair heavens, they are admirable,
The best that ever I heard.

GIU. I am vext I can hold never a bone of me still,
'Sblood, I think they mean to build a Tabernacle here, well?

PROS. Sister, you have a simple servant here, that crowns your beauty with
such encomiums and devices, you may see what it is to be the mistress of a
wit that can make your perfections so transparent, that every blear eye may
look through them, and see him drowned over head and ears in the deep well
of desire. Sister Biancha, I marvel you get you not a servant that can
rhyme and do tricks too.

GIU. O monster! impudence itself! tricks!

BIA. Tricks, brother? what tricks?

HES. Nay, speak, I pray you, what tricks?

BIA. Ay, never spare any body here: but say, what tricks?

HES. Passion of my heart! do tricks?

PROS. 'Sblood, here's a trick vied, and revied: why, you monkeys, you!
what a cater-wauling do you keep! has he not given you rhymes, and verses,
and tricks?

GIU. Oh, see the devil!

PROS. Nay, you lamp of virginity, that take it in snuff so: come and
cherish this tame poetical fury in your servant, you'll be begg'd else
shortly for a concealment: go to, reward his muse, you cannot give him
less than a shilling in conscience, for the book he had it out of cost him
a teston at the least. How now gallants, Lorenzo, Signior Bobadilla!
what, all sons of silence? no spirit.

GIU. Come, you might practise your ruffian tricks somewhere else, and not
here, I wiss: this is no tavern, nor no place for such exploits.

PROS. 'Sheart, how now!

GIU. Nay, boy, never look askance at me for the matter; I'll tell you of
it, by God's bread, ay, and you and your companions mend yourselves when I
have done.

PROS. My companions?

GIU. Ay, your companions, sir, so I say! 'Sblood, I am not afraid of you
nor them neither, you must have your poets, and your cavaliers, and your
fools follow you up and down the city, and here they must come to domineer
and swagger? sirrah, you ballad-singer, and slops, your fellow there, get
you out; get you out: or (by the will of God) I'll cut off your ears, go

PROS. 'Sblood, stay, let's see what he dare do: cut off his ears; you are
an ass, touch any man here, and by the Lord I'll run my rapier to the hilts
in thee.

GIU. Yea, that would I fain see, boy.

BIA. O Jesu! Piso! Matheo! murder!

HES. Help, help, Piso!


LOR. JU. Gentlemen, Prospero, forbear, I pray you.

BOB. Well, sirrah, you Holofernes: by my hand, I will pink thy flesh full
of holes with my rapier for this, I will, by this good heaven: nay, let
him come, let him come, gentlemen, by the body of St. George, I'll not kill


PIS. Hold, hold, forbear.

GIU. You whoreson, bragging coistril.

THO. Why, how now? what's the matter? what stir is here?
Whence springs this quarrel? Piso, where is he?
Put up your weapons, and put off this rage.
My wife and sister, they are cause of this.
What, Piso? where is this knave?

PIS. Here, sir.

PROS. Come, let's go: this is one of my brother's ancient humours, this.

STEP. I am glad nobody was hurt by this ancient humour.


THO. Why, how now, brother, who enforced this brawl?

GIU. A sort of lewd rake-hells, that care neither for God nor the devil.
And they must come here to read ballads and roguery, and trash. I'll mar
the knot of them ere I sleep, perhaps; especially Signior Pithagoras, he
that's all manner of shapes: and songs and sonnets, his fellow there.

HES. Brother, indeed you are too violent,
Too sudden in your courses, and you know
My brother Prospero's temper will not bear
Any reproof, chiefly in such a presence,
Where every slight disgrace he should receive,
Would wound him in opinion and respect.

GIU. Respect? what talk you of respect 'mongst such
As had neither spark of manhood nor good manners?
By God I am ashamed to hear you: respect?

HES. Yes, there was one a civil gentleman,
And very worthily demeaned himself.

THO. Oh, that was some love of yours, sister.

HES. A love of mine? i'faith, I would he were
No other's love but mine.

BIA. Indeed, he seem'd to be a gentleman of an exceeding fair disposition,
and of very excellent good parts.

THO. Her love, by Jesu: my wife's minion,
Fair disposition? excellent good parts?
'Sheart, these phrases are intolerable,
Good parts? how should she know his parts? well, well,
It is too plain, too clear: Piso, come hither.
What, are they gone?

PIS. Ay, sir, they went in.

THO. Are any of the gallants within?

PIS. No sir, they are all gone.

THO. Art thou sure of it?

PIS. Ay, sir, I can assure you.

THO. Piso, what gentleman was that they praised so?

PISO. One they call him Signior Lorenzo, a fair young gentleman, sir.

THO. Ay, I thought so: my mind gave me as much:
'Sblood, I'll be hang'd if they have not hid him in the house,
Some where, I'll go search, Piso, go with me,
Be true to me and thou shalt find me bountiful.


COB. What, Tib, Tib, I say.

TIB. How now, what cuckold is that knocks so hard? Oh, husband, is't you?
What's the news?

COB. Nay, you have stunn'd me, i'faith; you have given me a knock on the
forehead will stick by me: cuckold? 'Swounds, cuckold?

TIB. Away, you fool, did I know it was you that knock'd?
Come, come, you may call me as bad when you list.

COB. May I? 'swounds, Tib, you are a whore.

TIB. 'Sheart, you lie in your throat.

COB. How, the lie? and in my throat too? do you long to be stabb'd, ha?

TIB. Why, you are no soldier?

COB. Mass, that's true, when was Bobadilla here? that rogue, that slave,
that fencing Burgullion? I'll tickle him, i'faith.

TIB. Why, what's the matter?

COB. Oh, he hath basted me rarely, sumptuously: but I have it here will
sauce him, oh. the doctor, the honestest old Trojan in all Italy, I do
honour the very flea of his dog: a plague on him, he put me once in a
villainous filthy fear: marry, it vanish'd away like the smoke of tobacco:
but I was smok'd soundly first, I think the devil, and his good angel my
guest: well, wife, or Tib, (which you will) get you in, and lock the door,
I charge you; let nobody into you, not Bobadilla himself, nor the devil in
his likeness; you are a woman; you have flesh and blood enough in you;
therefore be not tempted; keep the door shut upon all comers.

TIB. I warrant you there shall nobody enter here without my consent.

COB. Nor with your consent, sweet Tib, and so I leave you.

TIB. It's more than you know, whether you leave me so.

COB. How?

TIB. Why, sweet.

COB. Tut, sweet or sour, thou art a flower.
Keep close thy door, I ask no more.


LOR. JU. Well, Musco, perform this business happily,
And thou makest a conquest of my love for ever.

PROS. I'faith, now let thy spirits put on their best habit,
But at any hand remember thy message to my brother,
For there's no other means to start him.

MUS. I warrant you, sir, fear nothing; I have a nimble soul that hath
waked all my imaginative forces by this time, and put them in true motion:
what you have possest me withal, I'll discharge it amply, sir. Make no

PROS. That's well said, Musco: faith, sirrah, how dost thou approve my
wit in this device?

LOR. JU. Troth, well, however; but excellent if it take.

PROS. Take, man: why, it cannot choose but take, if the circumstances
miscarry not, but tell me zealously: dost thou affect my sister Hesperida,
as thou pretendest?

LOR. JU. Prospero, by Jesu.

PROS. Come, do not protest, I believe thee: i'faith, she is a virgin of
good ornament, and much modesty, unless I conceived very worthily of her,
thou shouldest not have her.

LOR. JU. Nay, I think it a question whether I shall have her for all that.

PROS. 'Sblood, thou shalt have her, by this light, thou shalt!

LOR. JU. Nay, do not swear.

PROS. By St. Mark, thou shalt have her: I'll go fetch her presently,
'point but where to meet, and by this hand, I'll bring her!

LOR. JU. Hold, hold, what, all policy dead? no prevention of mischiefs

PROS. Why, by — what shall I swear by? Thou shalt have her, by my soul.

LOR. JU. I pray thee have patience, I am satisfied: Prospero, omit no
offered occasion that may make my desires complete, I beseech thee.

PROS. I warrant thee



PET. Was your man a soldier, sir?

LOR. SE. Ay, a knave, I took him up begging upon the way,
This morning as I was coming to the city.
Oh! Here he is; come on, you make fair speed:
Why, where in God's name have you been so long?

MUS. Marry, (God's my comfort) where I thought I should have had little
comfort of your worship's service.

LOR. SE. How so?

MUS. O God, sir! Your coming to the city, and your entertainment of men,
and your sending me to watch; indeed, all the circumstances are as open to
your son as to yourself.

LOR. SE. How should that be? Unless that villain Musco
Have told him of the letter, and discovered
All that I strictly charged him to conceal? 'tis so.

MUS. I'faith, you have hit it: 'tis so indeed.

LOR. SE. But how should he know thee to be my man?

MUS. Nay, sir, I cannot tell; unless it were by the black art? Is not
your son a scholar, sir?

LOR. SE. Yes; but I hope his soul is not allied
To such a devilish practice: if it were,
I had just cause to weep my part in him.
And curse the time of his creation.
But where didst thou find them, Portensio?

MUS. Nay, sir, rather you should ask where they found me? For I'll be
sworn I was going along in the street, thinking nothing, when (of a sudden)
one calls, 'Signior Lorenzo's man': another, he cries 'soldier': and thus
half a dozen of them, till they had got me within doors, where I no sooner
came, but out flies their rapiers and all bent against my breast, they
swore some two or three hundred oaths, and all to tell me I was but a dead
man, if I did not confess where you were, and how I was employed, and about
what; which, when they could not get out of me, (as God's my judge, they
should have kill'd me first,) they lock'd me up into a room in the top of a
house, where, by great miracle, (having a light heart) I slid down by a
bottom of packthread into the street, and so scaped: but, master, thus
much I can assure you, for I heard it while I was lock'd up: there were a
great many merchants and rich citizens' wives with them at a banquet, and
your son, Signior Lorenzo, has 'pointed one of them to meet anon at one
Cob's house, a water-bearer's, that dwells by the wall: now there you
shall be sure to take him: for fail he will not.

LOR. SE. Nor will I fail to break this match, I doubt not;
Well, go thou along with master Doctor's man,
And stay there for me; at one Cob's house, say'st thou?

MUS. Ay, sir, there you shall have him: when can you tell? Much wench,
or much son: 'sblood, when he has stay'd there three or four hours,
travelling with the expectation of somewhat; and at the length be delivered
of nothing: oh, the sport that I should then take to look on him if I
durst; but now I mean to appear no more afore him in this shape: I have
another trick to act yet; oh, that I were so happy as to light upon an
ounce now of this Doctor's clerk: God save you, sir.

PET. I thank you, good sir.

MUS. I have made you stay somewhat long, sir.

PET. Not a whit, sir, I pray you what, sir, do you mean? You have been
lately in the wars, sir, it seems.

MUS. Ay, marry have I, sir.

PET. Troth, sir, I would be glad to bestow a bottle of wine on you, if it
please you to accept it.

MUS. O Lord, sir.

PET. But to hear the manner of your services, and your devices in the
wars, they say they be very strange, and not like those a man reads in the
Roman histories.

MUS. O God, no, sir, why, at any time when it please you, I shall be ready
to discourse to you what I know: and more too somewhat.

PET. No better time than now, sir, we'll go to the 'Mermaid': there we
shall have a cup of neat wine, I pray you, sir, let me request you.

MUS. I'll follow you, sir, he is mine own, I'faith.

MAT. Signior, did you ever see the like clown of him where we were to-day:
Signior Prospero's brother? I think the whole earth cannot shew his like,
by Jesu.

LOR. JU. We were now speaking of him, Signior Bobadillo tells me he is
fallen foul of you too.

MAT. Oh ay, sir, he threatened me with the bastinado.

BOB. Ay, but I think I taught you a trick this morning for that. You
shall kill him without all question, if you be so minded.

MAT. Indeed, it is a most excellent trick.

BOB. Oh, you do not give spirit enough to your motion; you are too dull,
too tardy: oh, it must be done like lightning, hay!

MAT. Oh, rare.

BOB. Tut, 'tis nothing an't be not done in a —

LOR. JU. Signior, did you never play with any of our masters here?

MAT. Oh, good sir.

BOB. Nay, for a more instance of their preposterous humour, there came
three or four of them to me, at a gentleman's house, where it was my chance
to be resident at that time, to intreat my presence at their schools, and
withal so much importuned me, that (I protest to you as I am a gentleman) I
was ashamed of their rude demeanour out of all measure: well, I told them
that to come to a public school they should pardon me, it was opposite to
my humour, but if so they would attend me at my lodging, I protested to do
them what right or favour I could, as I was a gentleman, etc.

LOR. JU. So sir, then you tried their skill.

BOB. Alas, soon tried: you shall hear, sir, within two or three days
after they came, and by Jesu, good Signior, believe me, I graced them
exceedingly, shewed them some two or three tricks of prevention hath got
them since admirable credit, they cannot deny this; and yet now they hate
me, and why? Because I am excellent, and for no other reason on the earth.

LOR. JU. This is strange and vile as ever I heard.

BOB. I will tell you, sir, upon my first coming to the city, they
assaulted me some three, four, five, six of them together, as I have walk'd
alone in divers places of the city; as upon the Exchange, at my lodging,
and at my ordinary, where I have driven them afore me the whole length of a
street, in the open view of all our gallants, pitying to hurt them, believe
me; yet all this lenity will not depress their spleen; they will be doing
with the pismire, raising a hill a man may spurn abroad with his foot at
pleasure: by my soul, I could have slain them all, but I delight not in
murder: I am loth to bear any other but a bastinado for them, and yet I
hold it good policy not to go disarm'd, for though I be skilful, I may be
suppressed with multitudes.

LOR. JU. Ay, by Jesu, may you, sir, and (in my conceit) our whole nation
should sustain the loss by it, if it were so.

BOB. Alas, no: what's a peculiar man to a nation? not seen.

LOR. JU. Ay, but your skill, sir.

BOB. Indeed, that might be some loss, but who respects it? I will tell
you, Signior, (in private) I am a gentleman, and live here obscure, and to
myself; but were I known to the Duke (observe me) I would undertake (upon
my head and life) for the public benefit of the state, not only to spare
the entire lives of his subjects in general, but to save the one half, nay,
three parts of his yearly charges, in holding wars generally against all
his enemies; and how will I do it, think you?

LOR. JU. Nay, I know not, nor can I conceive.

BOB. Marry, thus, I would select nineteen more to myself, throughout the
land, gentlemen they should be of good spirit; strong and able
constitution, I would choose them by an instinct, a trick that I have, and
I would teach these nineteen the special tricks, as your punto, your
reverso, your stoccato, your imbroccato, your passado, your montanto, till
they could all play very near or altogether as well as myself. This done,
say the enemy were forty thousand strong: we twenty would come into the
field the tenth of March, or thereabouts, and would challenge twenty of the
enemy; they could not in their honour refuse the combat: well, we would
kill them: challenge twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them;
twenty more, kill them too; and thus would we kill every man his twenty a
day, that's twenty score; twenty score, that's two hundred; two hundred a
day, five days a thousand: forty thousand; forty times five, five times
forty, two hundred days kills them all, by computation, and this will I
venture my life to perform: provided there be no treason practised upon us.

LOR. JU. Why, are you so sure of your hand at all times?

BOB. Tut, never mistrust, upon my soul.

LOR. JU. Mass, I would not stand in Signior Giuliano's state, then, an you
meet him, for the wealth of Florence.

BOB. Why Signior, by Jesu, if he were here now, I would not draw my weapon
on him, let this gentleman do his mind, but I will bastinado him (by
heaven) an ever I meet him.


MAT. Faith, and I'll have a fling at him.

LOR. JU. Look, yonder he goes, I think.

GIU. 'Sblood, what luck have I, I cannot meet with these bragging rascals.

BOB. It's not he: is it?

LOR. JU. Yes, faith, it is he.

MAT. I'll be hang'd then if that were he.

LOR. JU. Before God, it was he: you make me swear.

STEP. Upon my salvation, it was he.

BOB. Well, had I though it had been he, he could not have gone so, but I
cannot be induced to believe it was he yet.

GIU. Oh, gallant, have I found you? draw to your tools; draw, or by God's
will I'll thrash you.

BOB. Signior, hear me.

GIU. Draw your weapons then.

BOB. Signior, I never thought it till now: body of St. George, I have a
warrant of the peace served on me even now, as I came along, by a
water-bearer, this gentleman saw it, Signior Matheo.

GIU. The peace! 'Sblood, you will not draw?


LOR. JU. Hold, Signior, hold, under thy favour forbear.

GIU. Prate again as you like this, you whoreson cowardly rascal, you'll
control the point, you? your consort he is gone; had he staid he had
shared with you, in faith.

BOB. Well, gentlemen, bear witness, I was bound to the peace, by Jesu.

LOR. JU. Why, and though you were, sir, the law allows you to defend
yourself; that's but a poor excuse.

BOB. I cannot tell; I never sustained the like disgrace (by heaven); sure
I was struck with a planet then, for I had no power to touch my weapon.

LOR. JU. Ay, like enough; I have heard of many that have been beaten under
a planet; go, get you to the surgeon's, 'sblood, an these be your tricks,
your passados, and your montantos, I'll none of them: O God, that this age
should bring forth such creatures! come, cousin.

STEP. Mass, I'll have this cloak.

LOR. JU. God's will: it's Giuliano's.

STEP. Nay, but 'tis mine now, another might have ta'en it up as well as I,
I'll wear it, so I will.

LOR. JU. How an he see it? he'll challenge it, assure yourself.

STEP. Ay, but he shall not have it; I'll say I bought it.

LOR. JU. Advise you, cousin, take heed he give not you as much.


THO. Now trust me, Prospero, you were much to blame,
T' incense your brother and disturb the peace
Of my poor house, for there be sentinels,
That every minute watch to give alarms
Of civil war, without adjection
Of your assistance and occasion.

PROS. No harm done, brother, I warrant you: since there is no harm done,
anger costs a man nothing: an a tall man is never his own man till he be
angry, to keep his valour in obscurity, is to keep himself as it were in a
cloak-bag: what's a musician unless he play? what's a tall man unless he
fight? for indeed, all this my brother stands upon absolutely, and that
made me fall in with him so resolutely.

BIA. Ay, but what harm might have come of it?

PROS. Might? So might the good warm clothes your husband wears be
poison'd for any thing he knows, or the wholesome wine he drunk even now at
the table.

THO. Now, God forbid: O me! now I remember,
My wife drunk to me last; and changed the cup,
And bade me wear this cursed suit to-day,
See if God suffer murder undiscover'd!
I feel me ill; give me some mithridate,
Some mithridate and oil; good sister, fetch me,
Oh, I am sick at heart: I burn, I burn;
If you will save my life, go fetch it me.

PROS. Oh, strange humour, my very breath hath poison'd him.

HES. Good brother, be content, what do you mean?
The strength of these extreme conceits will kill you.

BIA. Beshrew your heart-blood, brother Prospero,
For putting such a toy into his head.

PROS. Is a fit simile a toy? will he be poison'd with a simile?
Brother Thorello, what a strange and vain imagination is this?
For shame to be wiser, on my soul there's no such matter.

THO. Am I not sick? how am I then not poison'd?
Am I not poison'd? how am I then so sick?

BIA. If you be sick, your own thoughts make you sick.

PROS. His jealousy is the poison he hath taken.

MUS. Signior Thorello, my master, Doctor Clement, salutes you, and desires
to speak with you, with all speed possible.

THO. No time but now? Well, I'll wait upon his worship, Piso, Cob, I'll
seek them out, and set them sentinels till I return. Piso, Cob, Piso

PROS. Musco, this is rare, but how got'est thou this apparel of the
Doctor's man?

MUS. Marry sir. My youth would needs bestow the wine on me to hear some
martial discourse; where I so marshall'd him, that I made him monstrous
drunk, and because too much heat was the cause of his distemper, I stript
him stark naked as he lay along asleep, and borrowed his suit to deliver
this counterfeit message in, leaving a rusty armour and an old brown bill
to watch him till my return: which shall be when I have pawn'd his
apparel, and spent the money perhaps.

PROS. Well, thou art a mad knave, Musco, his absence will be a good
subject for more mirth: I pray thee return to thy young master Lorenzo,
and will him to meet me and Hesperida at the Friary presently: for here,
tell him, the house is so stored with jealousy, that there is no room for
love to stand upright in: but I'll use such means she shall come thither,
and that I think will meet best with his desires: Hie thee, good Musco.

MUS. I go, sir.

THO. Ho, Piso, Cob, where are these villains, trow?
Oh, art thou there? Piso, hark thee here:
Mark what I say to thee, I must go forth;
Be careful of thy promise, keep good watch,
Note every gallant and observe him well,
That enters in my absence to thy mistress;
If she would shew him rooms, the jest is stale,
Follow them, Piso, or else hang on him,
And let him not go after, mark their looks;
Note if she offer but to see his band,
Or any other amorous toy about him,
But praise his leg, or foot, or if she say,
The day is hot, and bid him feel her hand,
How hot it is, oh, that's a monstrous thing:
Note me all this, sweet Piso; mark their sighs,
And if they do but whisper, break them off,
I'll bear thee out in it: wilt thou do this?
Wilt thou be true, sweet Piso?

PIS. Most true, sir.

THO. Thanks, gentle Piso: where is Cob? Now: Cob?

BIA. He's ever calling for Cob, I wonder how he employs Cob so.

PROS. Indeed, sister, to ask how he employs Cob is a necessary question
for you that are his wife, and a thing not very easy for you to be
satisfied in: but this I'll assure you, Cob's wife is an excellent bawd
indeed, and oftentimes your husband haunts her house, marry, to what end I
cannot altogether accuse him, imagine you what you think convenient: but I
have known fair hides have foul hearts ere now, I can tell you.

BIA. Never said you truer than that, brother! Piso, fetch your cloke, and
go with me, I'll after him presently: I would to Christ I could take him
there, I'faith.

PROS. So let them go: this may make sport anon, now, my fair sister
Hesperida: ah, that you knew how happy a thing it were to be fair and

HES. That toucheth not me, brother.

PROS. That's true: that's even the fault of it, for indeed beauty stands
a woman in no stead, unless it procure her touching: but, sister, whether
it touch you or no, it touches your beauties, and I am sure they willabide
the touch, as they do not, a plague of all ceruse, say I! And it touches
me too in part, though not in thee. Well, there's a dear and respected
friend of mine, sister, stands very strongly affected towards you, and hath
vowed to inflame whole bonfires of zeal in his heart, in honour of your
perfections. I have already engaged my promise to bring you where you
shall hear him confirm much more than I am able to lay down for him:
Signior Lorenzo is the man: what say you, sister; shall I intreat so much
favour of you for my friend, as to direct and attend you to his meeting?
Upon my soul, he loves you extremely, approve it, sweet Hesperida, will you?

HES. Faith, I had very little confidence in mine own constancy, if I durst
not meet a man: but, brother Prospero, this motion of yours savours of an
old knight adventurer's servant, methinks.

PROS. What's that, sister?

HES. Marry, of the squire.

PROS. No matter, Hesperida, if it did, I would be such an one for my
friend, but say, will you go?

HES. Brother, I will, and bless my happy stars.

CLEM. Why, what villainy is this, my man gone on a false message, and run
away when he has done, why, what trick is there in it, trow! 1, 2, 3, 4,
and 5.

THO. How! Is my wife gone forth, where is she, sister!

HES. She's gone abroad with Piso.

THO. Abroad with Piso? Oh, that villain dors me,
He hath discovered all unto my wife,
Beast that I was to trust him: whither went she?

HES. I know not, sir.

PROS. I'll tell you, brother, whither I suspect she's gone.

THO. Whither, for God's sake!

PROS. To Cob's house, I believe: but keep my counsel.

THO. I will, I will, to Cob's house! Doth she haunt Cob's?
She's gone with a purpose now to cuckold me,
With that lewd rascal, who to win her favour,
Hath told her all

CLEM. But did your mistress see my man bring him a message?

PROS. That we did, master Doctor.

CLEM. And whither went the knave?

PROS. To the tavern, I think, sir.

CLEM. What, did Thorello give him any thing to spend for the message he
brought him? if he did I should commend my man's wit exceedingly if he
would make himself drunk with the joy of it, farewell, lady, keep good
rule, you two, I beseech you now: by God's —; marry, my man makes me

PROS. What a mad doctor is this! Come, sister, let's away.

MAT. I wonder, Signior, what they will say of my going away, ha?

BOB. Why, what should they say? but as of a discreet gentleman.
Quick, wary, respectful of natures,
Fair lineaments, and that's all.

MAT. Why so, but what can they say of your beating?

BOB. A rude part, a touch with soft wood, a kind of gross battery used,
laid on strongly: borne most patiently, and that's all.

MAT. Ay, but would any man have offered it in Venice?

BOB. Tut, I assure you no? you shall have there your Nobilis, your
Gentilezza, come in bravely upon your reverse, stand you close, stand you
firm, stand you fair, save your retricato with his left leg, come to the
assaulto with the right, thrust with brave steel, defy your base wood. But
wherefore do I awake this remembrance? I was bewitch'd, by Jesu: but I
will be revenged.

MAT. Do you hear, is't not best to get a warrant and have him arrested,
and brought before Doctor Clement?

BOB. It were not amiss, would we had it.


MAT. Why, here comes his man, let's speak to him.

BOB. Agreed, do you speak.

MAT. God save you, sir.

MUS. With all my heart, sir.

MAT. Sir, there is one Giuliano hath abused this gentleman and me, and we
determine to make our amends by law, now if you would do us the favour to
procure us a warrant, for his arrest, of your master, you shall be well
considered, I assure I'faith, sir.

MUS. Sir, you know my service is my living, such favours as these gotten
of my master is his only preferment, and therefore you must consider me as
I may make benefit of my place.

MAT. How is that?

MUS. Faith, sir, the thing is extraordinary, and the gentleman may be of
great account: yet be what he will, if you will lay me down five crowns in
my hand, you shall have it, otherwise not.

MAT. How shall we do, Signior? You have no money.

BOB. Not a cross,, by Jesu.

MAT. Nor I, before God, but two pence, left of my two shillings in the
morning for wine and cakes, let's give him some pawn.

BOB. Pawn? we have none to the value of his demand.

MAT. O Lord, man, I'll pawn this jewel in my ear, and you may pawn your
silk stockings, and pull up your boots, they will ne'er be mist.

BOB. Well, an there be no remedy, I'll step aside and put them off.

MAT. Do you hear, sir? We have no store of money at this time,
but you shall have good pawns, look you, sir, this jewel and this
gentleman's silk stockings, because we would have it dispatch'd ere we went
to our chambers.

MUS. I am content, sir, I will get you the warrant presently. What's his
name, say you, Giuliano?

MAT. Ay, ay, Giuliano.

MUS. What manner of man is he?

MAT. A tall, big man, sir; he goes in a cloak most commonly of silk
russet, laid about with russet lace.

MUS. 'Tis very good, sir.

MAT. Here, sir, here's my jewel.

BOB. And here are stockings.

MUS. Well, gentlemen, I'll procure this warrant presently, and appoint you
a varlet of the city to serve it, if you'll be upon the Realto anon, the
varlet shall meet you there.

MAT. Very good, sir, I wish no better.

MUS. This is rare, now will I go pawn this cloak of the doctor's man's at
the broker's for a varlet's suit, and be the varlet myself, and get either
more pawns, or more money of Giuliano for my arrest.



LOR. SE. Oh, here it is, I am glad I have found it now.
Ho! Who is within here?

TIB. I am within, sir, what's your pleasure?

LOR. SE. To know who is within besides yourself.

TIB. Why, sir, you are no constable, I hope?

LOR. SE. Oh, fear you the constable? Then I doubt not,
You have some guests within deserve that fear;
I'll fetch him straight.

TIB. O' God's name, sir.

LOR. SE. Go to, tell me is not the young Lorenzo here?

TIB. Young Lorenzo, I saw none such, sir, of mine honesty.

LOR. SE. Go to, your honesty flies too lightly from you:
There's no way but fetch the constable.

TIB. The constable, the man is mad, I think.

PISO. Ho, who keeps house here?

LOR. SE. Oh, this is the female copes-mate of my son.
Now shall I meet him straight.

BIA. Knock, Piso, pray thee.

PIS. Ho, good wife.

TIB. Why, what's the matter with you?

BIA. Why, woman, grieves it you to ope your door?
Belike you get something to keep it shut.

TIB. What mean these questions, pray ye?

BIA. So strange you make it! Is not Thorello, my tried husband, here?

LOR. SE. Her husband?

TIB. I hope he needs not be tried here.

BIA. No, dame: he doth it not for need but pleasure.

TIB. Neither for need nor pleasure is he here.

LOR. SE. This is but a device to balk me withal; Soft, who's this?

BIA. Oh, sir, have I forestall'd your honest market?
Found your close walks? You stand amazed now, do you?
I'faith (I am glad) I have smoked you yet at last;
What's your jewel, trow? In: come, let's see her;
Fetch forth your housewife, dame; if she be fairer
In any honest judgment than myself,
I'll be content with it: but she is change,
She feeds you fat; she soothes your appetite,
And you are well: your wife, an honest woman,
Is meat twice sod to you, sir; Oh, you treachour.

LOR. SE. She cannot counterfeit this palpably.

THO. Out on thee, more than strumpet's impudency,
Steal'st thou thus to thy haunts? And have I taken
Thy bawd and thee, and thy companion,
This hoary-headed letcher, this old goat,
Close at your villainy, and would'st thou 'scuse it,
With this stale harlot's jest, accusing me?
Oh, old incontinent, dost thou not shame,
When all thy powers in chastity are spent,
To have a mind so hot? And to entice
And feed the enticements of a lustful woman?

BIA. Out, I defy thee, I, dissembling wretch?

THO. Defy me, strumpet? Ask thy pander here,
Can he deny it? Or that wicked elder.

LOR. SE. Why, hear you, Signior?

THO. Tut, tut, never speak,
Thy guilty conscience will discover thee.

LOR. SE. What lunacy is this that haunts this man?

GIU. Oh, sister, did you see my cloak?

BIA. Not I, I see none.

GIU. God's life, I have lost it then, saw you Hesperida?

THO. Hesperida? Is she not at home?

GIU. No, she is gone abroad, and nobody can tell me of it at home.

THO. O heaven! abroad? What light! A harlot too!
Why? Why? hark you, hath she, hath she not a brother?
A brother's house to keep, to look unto?
But she must fling abroad, my wife hath spoil'd her,
She takes right after her, she does, she does,
Well, you goody bawd and —
That make your husband such a hoddy-doddy;
And you, young apple squire, and old cuckold-maker,
I'll have you every one before the Doctor,
Nay, you shall answer it, I charge you go.

LOR. SE. Marry, with all my heart, I'll go willingly: how have I wrong'd
myself in coming here.

BIA. Go with thee? I'll go with thee to thy shame, I warrant thee.

COB. Why, what's the matter? what's here to do?

THO. What, Cob, art thou here? Oh, I am abused,
And in thy house, was never man so wrong'd.

COB. 'Slid, in my house? who wrong'd you in my house?

THO. Marry, young lust in old, and old in young here,
Thy wife's their bawd, here have I taken them.

COB. Do you hear? did I not charge you keep your doors shut here, and do
you let them lie open for all comers, do you scratch?

LOR. SE. Friend, have patience; if she have done wrong in this, let her
answer it afore the Magistrate.

COB. Ay, come, you shall go afore the Doctor.

TIB. Nay, I will go, I'll see an you may be allowed to beat your poor wife
thus at every cuckoldly knave's pleasure, the devil and the pox take you
all for me: why do you not go now?

THO. A bitter quean, come, we'll have you tamed

MUS. Well, of all my disguises yet, now am I most like myself, being in
this varlet's suit, a man of my present profession never counterfeits till
he lay hold upon a debtor, and says he rests him, for then he brings him to
all manner of unrest. A kind of little kings we are, bearing the
diminutive of a mace, made like a young artichoke, that always carries
pepper and salt in itself, well, I know not what danger I undergo by this
exploit, pray God I come well off.

MAT. See, I think yonder is the varlet.

BOB. Let's go in quest of him.

MAT. God save you, friend, are not you here by the appointment of Doctor
Clement's man?

MUS. Yes, an't please you, sir; he told me two gentlemen had will'd him to
procure an arrest upon one Signior Giuliano by a warrant from his master,
which I have about me.

MAT. It is honestly done of you both; and see where he comes you must
arrest; upon him, for God's sake, before he be 'ware.

BOB. Bear back, Matheo!


MUS. Signior Giuliano, I arrest you, sir, in the Duke's name.

STEP. Signior Giuliano! am I Signior Giuliano? I am one Signior
Stephano, I tell you, and you do not well, by God's lid, to arrest me, I
tell you truly; I am not in your master's books, I would you should well
know; ay, and a plague of God on you for making me afraid thus.

MUS. Why, how are you deceived, gentlemen?

BOB. He wears such a cloak, and that deceived us,
But see, here a comes, officer, this is he.

GIU. Why, how now, signior gull: are you a turn'd filcher of late? come,
deliver my cloak.

STEP. Your cloak, sir? I bought it even now in the market.

MUS. Signior Giuliano, I must arrest you, sir.

GIU. Arrest me, sir, at whose suit?

MUS. At these two gentlemen's.

GIU. I obey thee, varlet; but for these villains -

MUS. Keep the peace, I charge you, sir, in the Duke's name, sir.

GIU. What's the matter, varlet?

MUS. You must go before master Doctor Clement, sir, to answer what these
gentlemen will object against you, hark you, sir, I will use you kindly.

MAT. We'll be even with you, sir, come, Signior Bobadilla, we'll go before
and prepare the Doctor: varlet, look to him.

BOB. The varlet is a tall man, by Jesu.

GIU. Away, you rascals, Signior, I shall have my cloak.

STEP. Your cloak? I say once again, I bought it, and I'll keep it.

GIU. You will keep it?

STEP. Ay, that I will.

GIU. Varlet, stay, here's thy fee, arrest him.

MUS. Signior Stephano, I arrest you.

STEP. Arrest me! there, take your cloak: I'll none of it.

GIU. Nay, that shall not serve your turn, varlet, bring him away, I'll go
with thee now to the Doctor's, and carry him along.

STEP. Why, is not here your cloak? what would you have?

GIU. I care not for that.

MUS. I pray you, sir.

GIU. Never talk of it; I will have him answer it.

MUS. Well, sir, then I'll leave you, I'll take this gentleman's word for
his appearance, as I have done yours.

GIU. Tut, I'll have no words taken, bring him along to answer it.

MUS. Good sir, I pity the gentleman's case, here's your money again.

GIU. God's bread, tell not me of my money, bring him away, I say.

MUS. I warrant you, he will go with you of himself.

GIU. Yet more ado?

MUS. I have made a fair mash of it.

STEP. Must I go?

CLEM. Nay, but stay, stay, give me leave; my chair, sirrah; you, Signior
Lorenzo, say you went thither to meet your son.

LOR. SE. Ay, sir.

CLEM. But who directed you thither?

LOR. SE. That did my man, sir.

CLEM. Where is he?

LOR. SE. Nay, I know not now, I left him with your clerk,
And appointed him to stay here for me.

CLEM. About what time was this?

LOR. SE. Marry, between one and two, as I take it.

CLEM. So, what time came my man with the message to you, Signior Thorello?

THO. After two, sir.

CLEM. Very good, but, lady, how that you were at Cob's, ha?

BIA. An't please you, sir, I'll tell you: my brother Prospero told me
that Cob's house was a suspected place.

CLEM. So it appears, methinks; but on.

BIA. And that my husband used thither daily.

CLEM. No matter, so he use himself well.

BIA. True, sir, but you know what grows by such haunts oftentimes.

CLEM. Ay, rank fruits of a jealous brain, lady: but did you find your
husband there in that case, as you suspected?

THO. I found her there, sir.

CLEM. Did you so? that alters the case; who gave you knowledge of your
wife's being there?

THO. Marry, that did my brother Prospero.

CLEM. How, Prospero first tell her, then tell you after? Where is Prospero?

THO. Gone with my sister, sir, I know not whither.

CLEM. Why, this is a mere trick, a device; you are gulled in this most
grossly: alas, poor wench, wert thou beaten for this? how now, sirrah,
what's the matter?

SER. Sir, there's a gentleman in the court without desires to speak with
your worship.

CLEM. A gentleman? what's he?

SER. A soldier, sir, he sayeth.

CLEM. A soldier? fetch me my armour, my sword, quickly; a soldier speak
with me, why, when, knaves? — come on, come on, hold my cap there, so;
give me my gorget, my sword; stand by, I will end your matters anon; let
the soldier enter, now, sir, what have you to say to me?

BOB. By your worship's favour.

CLEM. May, keep out, sir, I know not your pretence, you send me word, sir,
you are a soldier, why, sir, you shall be answered here, here be them have
been amongst soldiers. Sir, your pleasure.

BOB. Faith, sir, so it is: this gentleman and myself have been most
violently wronged by one Signior Giuliano: a gallant of the city here; and
for my own part, I protest, being a man in no sort given to this filthy
humour of quarrelling, he hath assaulted me in the way of my peace,
despoiled me of mine honour, disarmed me of my weapons, and beaten me in
the open streets: when I not so much as once offered to resist him.

CLEM. Oh, God's precious, is this the soldier? here, take my armour
quickly, 'twill make him swoon, I fear; he is not fit to look on't that
will put up a blow.


MAT. An't please your worship, he was bound to the peace.

CLEM. Why, an he were, sir, his hands were not bound, were they?

SER. There is one of the varlets of the city has brought two gentlemen
here upon arrest, sir.

CLEM. Bid him come in, set by the picture.
Now, sir, what! Signior Giuliano? is't you that are arrested at signior
freshwater's suit here?

GIU. I'faith, master Doctor, and here's another brought at my suit.

CLEM. What are you, sir?

STEP. A gentleman, sir; oh, uncle?

CLEM. Uncle? who, Lorenzo?

LOR. SE. Ay, sir.

STEP. God's my witness, my uncle, I am wrong'd here monstrously; he
chargeth me with stealing of his cloak, and would I might never stir, if I
did not find it in the street by chance.

GIU. Oh, did you find it now? you said you bought it erewhile.

STEP. And you said I stole it, nay, now my uncle is here I care not.

CLEM. Well, let this breathe awhile; you that have cause to complain
there, stand forth; had you a warrant for this arrest?

BOB. Ay, an't please your worship.

CLEM. Nay, do not speak in passion so, where had you it?

BOB. Of your clerk, sir.

CLEM. That's well, an my clerk can make warrants, and my hand not at them;
where is the warrant? varlet, have you it?

MUS. No, sir, your worship's man bid me do it for these gentlemen, and he
would be my discharge.

CLEM. Why, Signior Giuliano, are you such a novice to be arrested and
never see the warrant?

GIU. Why, sir, he did not arrest me.

CLEM. No? how then?

GIU. Marry, sir, he came to me and said he must arrest me, and he would
use me kindly, and so forth.

CLEM. Oh, God's pity, was it so, sir? he must arrest you. Give me my
long sword there; help me off, so; come on sir varlet, I must cut off your
legs, sirrah; nay, stand up, I'll use you kindly; I must cut off your legs,
I say.

MUS. Oh, good sir, I beseech you, nay, good master Doctor. Oh, good sir.

CLEM. I must do it; there is no remedy;
I must cut off your legs, sirrah.
I must cut off your ears, you rascal, I must do it;
I must cut off your nose, I must cut off your head.

MUS. Oh, for God's sake, good master Doctor.

CLEM. Well, rise; how dost thou now? dost thou feel thyself well? hast
thou no harm?

MUS. No, I thank God, sir, and your good worship.

CLEM. Why so? I said I must cut off thy legs, and I must cut off thy
arms, and I must cut off thy head; but I did not do it so: you said you
must arrest this gentleman, but you did not arrest him, you knave, you
slave, you rogue, do you say you must arrest, sirrah? away with him to the
jail, I'll teach you a trick for your must.

MUS. Good master Doctor, I beseech you be good to me.

CLEM. Marry o'God: away with him, I say.

MUS. Nay, 'sblood, before I go to prison, I'll put on my old brazen face,
and disclaim in my vocation: I'll discover, that's flat, an I be
committed, it shall be for the committing of more villainies than this,
hang me an I lose the least grain of my fame.

CLEM. Why? when, knave? by God's marry, I'll clap thee by the heels too.

MUS. Hold, hold, I pray you.

CLEM. What's the matter? Stay there.

MUS. Faith, sir, afore I go to this house of bondage, I have a case to
unfold to your worship: which (that it may appear more plain unto your
worship's view) I do thus first of all uncase, and appear in mine own
proper nature, servant to this gentleman: and known by the name of Musco.

LOR. SE. Ha, Musco!

STEP. Oh, uncle, Musco has been with my cousin and I all this day.

CLEM. Did not I tell you there was some device?

MUS. Nay, good master Doctor, since I have laid myself thus open to your
worship, now stand strong for me, till the progress of my tale be ended,
and then if my wit do not deserve your countenance, 'slight, throw it on a
dog, and let me go hang myself.

CLEM. Body of me, a merry knave, give me a bowl of sack. Signior Lorenzo,
I bespeak your patience in particular, marry, your ears in general, here,
knave, Doctor Clement drinks to thee.

MUS. I pledge master Doctor an't were a sea to the bottom.

CLEM. Fill his bowl for that, fill his bowl: so, now speak freely.

MUS. Indeed, this is it will make a man speak freely. But to the point,
know then that I, Musco, (being somewhat more trusted of my master than
reason required, and knowing his intent to Florence,) did assume the habit
of a poor soldier in wants, and minding by some means to intercept his
journey in the midway, 'twixt the grange and the city, I encountered him,
where begging of him in the most accomplished and true garb, (as they term
it) contrary to all expectation, he reclaimed me from that bad course of
life; entertained me into his service, employed me in his business, possest
me with his secrets, which I no sooner had received, but (seeking my young
master, and finding him at this gentleman's house) I revealed all most
amply: this done, by the device of Signior Prospero and him together, I
returned (as the raven did to the ark) to mine old master again, told him
he should find his son in what manner he knows, at one Cob's house, where
indeed he never meant to come; now my master, he to maintain the jest, went
thither, and left me with your worship's clerk, who, being of a most fine
supple disposition, (as most of your clerks are) proffers me the wine,
which I had the grace to accept very easily, and to the tavern we went:
there after much ceremony, I made him drunk in kindness, stript him to his
shirt, and leaving him in that cool vein, departed, frolick, courtier-like,
having obtained a suit: which suit fitting me exceedingly well, I put on,
and usurping your man's phrase and action, carried a message to Signior
Thorello in your name; which message was merely devised but to procure his
absence, while Signior Prospero might make a conveyance of Hesperida to my

CLEM. Stay, fill me the bowl again, here; 'twere pity of his life would
not cherish such a spirit: I drink to thee, fill him wine, why, now do you
perceive the trick of it?

THO. Ay, ay, perceive well we were all abused.

LOR. SE. Well, what remedy?

CLEM. Where is Lorenzo and Prospero, canst thou tell?

MUS. Ay, sir, they are at supper at the Mermaid, where I left your man.

CLEM. Sirrah, go warn them hither presently before me, and if the hour of
your fellow's resurrection be come, bring him too. But forward, forward,
when thou has been at Thorello's.

MUS. Marry, sir, coming along the street, these two gentlemen meet me, and
very strongly supposing me to be your worship's scribe, entreated me to
procure them a warrant for the arrest of Signior Giuliano, I promised them,
upon some pair of silk stockings or a jewel, or so, to do it, and to get a
varlet of the city to serve it, which varlet I appointed should meet them
upon the Realto at such an hour, they no sooner gone, but I, in a mere hope
of more gain by Signior Giuliano, went to one of Satan's old ingles, a
broker, and there pawned your man's livery for a varlet's suit, which here,
with myself, I offer unto your worship's consideration.

CLEM. Well, give me thy hand; Proh. Superi ingenium magnum quis noscit
Homerum. Illias oeternum si latuisset opus? I admire thee, I honour thee,
and if thy master or any man here be angry with thee, I shall suspect his
wit while I know him for it: do you hear, Signior Thorello, Signior
Lorenzo, and the rest of my good friends, I pray you let me have peace when
they come, I have sent for the two gallants and Hesperida, God's marry, I
must have you, friends, but now? what noise is there?

SER. Sir, it is Peto is come home.

CLEM. Peto, bring him hither, bring him hither, what, how now, signior
drunkard, in arms against me, ha? your reason, your reason for this.

PET. I beseech your worship to pardon me.

CLEM. Well, sirrah, tell him I do pardon him.

PET. Truly, sir, I did happen into bad company by chance, and they cast me
in a sleep and stript me of all my clothes.

CLEM. Tut, this is not to the purpose touching your armour, what might
your armour signify?

PET. Marry, sir, it hung in the room where they stript me, and I borrowed
it of one of the drawers, now in the evening, to come home in, because I
was loth to come through the street in my shirt.


CLEM. Well, disarm him, but it's no matter, let him stand by: who be
these? oh, young gallants; welcome, welcome, and you, lady, nay, never
scatter such amazed looks amongst us, Qui nil potest sperare desperet nihil.

PROS. Faith, master Doctor, that's even I, my hopes are small, and my
despair shall be as little. Brother, sister, brother, what, cloudy,
cloudy? "and will no sunshine on these looks appear?" Well, since there
is such a tempest toward, I'll be the porpoise, I'll dance: wench, be of
good cheer, thou hast a cloak for the rain yet, where is he? 'Sheart, how
now, the picture of the prodigal, go to, I'll have the calf drest for you
at my charges.

LOR. SE. Well, son Lorenzo, this day's work of yours hath much deceived my
hopes, troubled my peace, and stretch'd my patience further than became the
spirit of duty.

CLEM. Nay, God's pity, Signior Lorenzo, you shall urge it no more: come,
since you are here, I'll have the disposing of all, but first, Signior
Giuliano, at my request take your cloak again.

GIU. Well, sir, I am content.

CLEM. Stay, now let me see, oh signior snow-liver, I had almost forgotten
him, and your Genius there, what, doth he suffer for a good conscience too?
doth he bear his cross with patience?

MUS. Nay, they have scarce one cross between them both to bear.

CLEM. Why, dost thou know him? what is he? what is he?

MUS. Marry, search his pocket, sir, and he'll shew you he is an author, sir.

CLEM. Dic mihi musa virum: are you an author, sir? give me leave a
little, come on, sir, I'll make verses with you now in honour of the gods
and the goddesses for what you dare extempore; and now I begin.
"Mount thee my Phlegon muse, and testify,
How Saturn sitting in an ebon cloud,
Disrobed his podex, white as ivory,
And through the welkin thunder'd all aloud."
There's for you, sir.

PROS. Oh, he writes not in that height of style.

CLEM. No: we'll come a step or two lower then.
"From Catadupa and the banks of Nile,
Where only breeds your monstrous crocodile,
Now are we purposed for to fetch our style."

PROS. Oh, too far-fetch'd for him still, master Doctor.

CLEM. Ay, say you so? let's intreat a sight of his vein then.

PROS. Signior, master Doctor desires to see a sight of your vein, nay you
must not deny him.

CLEM. What, all this verse, body of me, he carries a whole realm; a
commonwealth of paper in his hose, let's see some of his subjects.
"Unto the boundless ocean of thy beauty,
Runs this poor river, charg'd with streams of zeal,
Returning thee the tribute of my duty:
Which here my youth, my plaints, my love reveal."
Good! is this your own invention?

MAT. No, sir, I translated that out of a book, called 'Delia'.

CLEM. Oh, but I would see some of your own, some of your own.

MAT. Sir, here's the beginning of a sonnet I made to my mistress.

CLEM. That, that: who? to Madonna Hesperida, is she your mistress?

PROS. It pleaseth him to call her so, sir.

CLEM. "In summer time, when Phoebus' golden rays".
You translated this too, did you not?

PROS. No, this is invention; he found it in a ballad.

MAT. Faith sir, I had most of the conceit of it out of a ballad indeed.

CLEM. Conceit, fetch me a couple of torches, sirrah,
I may see the conceit: quickly! it's very dark!

GIU. Call you this poetry?

LOR. JU. Poetry? nay, then call blasphemy, religion;
Call devils, angels; and sin, piety:
Let all things be preposterously transchanged.

LOR. SE. Why, how now, son! what are you startled now?
Hath the brize prick'd you, ha? go to; you see
How abjectly your poetry is rank'd in general opinion.

LOR. JU. Opinion, O God, let gross opinion sink and be damn'd
As deep as Barathrum,
If it may stand with your most wish'd content,
I can refell opinion and approve
The state of poesy, such as it is,
Blessed, eternal, and most true divine:
Indeed, if you will look on Poesy
As she appears in many, poor and lame,
Patch'd up in remnants and old worn rags,
Half starved for want of her peculiar food:
Sacred invention, then I must confirm
Both your conceit and censure of her merit,
But view her in her glorious ornaments,
Attired in the majesty of art,
Set high in spirit, with the precious taste
Of sweet philosophy, and which is most,
Crown'd with the rich traditions of a soul
That hates to have her dignity profaned
With any relish of an earthly thought:
Oh, then how proud a presence doth she bear.
Then is she like herself, fit to be seen
Of none but grave and consecrated eyes:
Nor is it any blemish to her fame,
That such lean, ignorant, and blasted wits,
Such brainless gulls, should utter their stol'n wares
With such applauses in our vulgar ears:
Or that their slubber'd lines have current pass
From the fat judgments of the multitude,
But that this barren and infected age
Should set no difference 'twixt these empty spirits
And a true poet: than which reverend name
Nothing can more adorn humanity.

CLEM. Ay, Lorenzo, but election is now governed altogether by the
influence of humour, which, instead of those holy flames that should direct
and light the soul to eternity, hurls forth nothing but smoke and congested
vapours, that stifle her up, and bereave her of all sight and motion. But
she must have a store of hellebore given her to purge these gross
obstructions: oh, that's well said, give me thy torch, come, lay this
stuff together. So, give fire! there, see, see, how our poet's glory
shines brighter and brighter, still, still it increaseth, oh, now it's at
the highest, and now it declines as fast: you may see, gallants, "sic
transit gloria mundi". Well now, my two signior outsides, stand forth, and
lend me your large ears, to a sentence, to a sentence: first, you,
Signior, shall this night to the cage, and so shall you, sir, from thence
to-morrow morning, you, Signior, shall be carried to the market cross, and
be there bound: and so shall you, sir, in a large motley coat, with a rod
at your girdle; and you in an old suit of sackcloth, and the ashes of your
papers (save the ashes, sirrah) shall mourn all day, and at night both
together sing some ballad of repentance very piteously, which you shall
make to the tune of "Who list to lead and a soldier's life". Sirrah
bill-man, embrace you this torch, and light the gentlemen to their
lodgings, and because we tender their safety, you shall watch them
to-night, you are provided for the purpose, away, and look to your charge
with an open eye, sirrah.

BOB. Well, I am arm'd in soul against the worst of fortune.

MAT. Faith, so should I be, an I had slept on it.

PET. I am arm'd too, but I am not like to sleep on it.

MUS. Oh, how this pleaseth me.

CLEM. Now, Signior Thorello, Giuliano, Prospero, Biancha.

STEP. And not me, sir.

CLEM. Yes, and you, sir: I had lost a sheep an he had not bleated, I must
have you all friends: but first a word with you, young gallant, and you,

GIU. Well, brother Prospero, by this good light that shines here, I am
loth to kindle fresh coals, but an you had come in my walk within these two
hours I had given you that you should not have clawed off again in haste,
by Jesus, I had done it, I am the arrant'st rogue that ever breathed else,
but now beshrew my heart if I bear you any malice in the earth.

PROS. Faith, I did it but to hold up a jest, and help my sister to a
husband, but, brother Thorello, and sister, you have a spice of the jealous
yet, both of you, (in your hose, I mean,) come, do not dwell upon your
anger so much, let's all be smooth foreheaded once again.

THOR. He plays upon my forehead, brother Giuliano, I pray you tell me one
thing I shall ask you: is my forehead any thing rougher than it was wont
to be?

GIU. Rougher? your forehead is smooth enough, man.

THO. Why should he then say, be smooth foreheaded,
Unless he jested at the smoothness of it?
And that may be, for horn is very sooth;
So are my brows, by Jesu, smooth as horn!

BIA. Brother, had he no haunt thither, in good faith?

PROS. No, upon my soul.

BIA. Nay, then, sweet-heart: nay, I pray thee, be not angry, god faith,
I'll never suspect thee any more, nay, kiss me, sweet muss.

THO. Tell me, Biancha, do not you play the woman with me.

BIA. What's that, sweet-heart?

THO. Dissemble.

BIA. Dissemble?

THO. Nay, do not turn away: but say i'faith was it not a match appointed
'twixt this old gentleman and you?

BIA. A match?

THO. Nay, if it were not, I do not care: do not weep, I pray thee, sweet
Biancha, nay, so now! by Jesus, I am not jealous, but resolved I have the
faithful'st wife in Italy.
"For this I find, where jealousy is fed,
Horns in the mind are worse than on the head.
See what a drove of horns fly in the air,
Wing'd with my cleansed and my credulous breath:
Watch them, suspicious eyes, watch where they fall,
See, see, on heads that think they have none at all.
Oh, what a plenteous world of this will come,
When air rains horns, all men be sure of some:

CLEM. Why that's well, come then: what say you, are all agreed? doth
none stand out?

PROS. None but this gentleman: to whom in my own person I owe all duty
and affection; but most seriously intreat pardon, for whatsoever hath past
in these occurrants that might be contrary to his most desired content.

LOR. SE. Faith sir, it is a virtue that pursues
Any save rude and uncomposed spirits,
To make a fair construction, and indeed
Not to stand off, when such respective means
Invite a general content in all.

CLEM. Well, then I conjure you all here to put off all discontentment,
first, you Signior Lorenze, your cares; you, and you, your jealousy; you,
our anger, and you, your wit, sir; and for a peace-offering, here's one
willing to be sacrificed upon this altar: say, do you approve my motion?

PROS. We do, I'll be mouth for all.

CLEM. Why, then I wish them all joy, and now, to make our evening
happiness more full: this night you shall be all my guests: where we'll
enjoy the very spirit of mirth, and carouse to the health of this heroic
spirit, whom to honour the more I do invest in my own robes, desiring you
two, Giuliano and Prospero, to be his supporters, the train to follow,
myself will lead, ushered by my page here with this honourable verse —
"Claudite jam rivos pueri sat prata biberunt".


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